How HR can help join the stress disconnect

Do employers really know what employees are stressed out about? One report examines why you might not be seeing the bigger picture

How HR can help join the stress disconnect
The perceptions employers have about the causes of stress and the reality for employees are strikingly different, according to Willis Towers Watson's 2015/2016 Global Staying@Work Survey.
 
For the employer, the survey found that the top four causes of employee stress were perceived to be:
  1. Lack of work/life balance
  2. Inadequate staffing
  3. Unclear or conflicting job expectations
  4. Technologies that expand the work day
On the other hand, the employees surveyed listed the following as their top four causes of stress:
  1. Low pay
  2. Inadequate staffing
  3. Company culture
  4. Lack of work/life balance
Dr Rajeshree ‘Gina’ Parekh, director of health and corporate wellness for Asia and Australasia at Willis Towers Watson told HRD that this difference in perception likely comes from the way that employers are getting feedback from their employees.
 
“Chances are the employer is responding to engagement surveys or very informal feedback that he’s hearing from ground up.”
 
Since these are generally done on an annual or biannual basis, management only receives a small window of information into employee stress – a characteristic which generally comes in cycles and which requires more frequent feedback to identify.
 
“We’re pushing for organisations to engage in something called active listening,” she said. “This is basically saying that employees are not a once-in-a-year phenomenon where you receive feedback; it’s more about day-to-day stuff.”
 
This means employers need to put in place measurements and methods for active listening, she said. For instance, employers can run frequent pulse surveys on a weekly or monthly basis.
 
“Another thing we look at is bringing in training for managers. When you manage a team, you’ll want to pick up early signs of stress in an employee. It’s much easier if you are working with them on a day-to-day basis.”
 
Employers just need to look at the way they’re asking questions and getting feedback and they will be able to form strategies that are more aligned with what the employee wants, she added.
 
Related stories:
 
Why stress is costing HR of a months’ sleep
 
Five HR trends for all-round employee health
 
Workplace wellness – how much can HR really do?

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