Here at Lambda Mi Education and Development, we have been expressing our concerns and opinions regarding the rising stress levels in individuals for a long time. We have been very concerned about rising stresses in society and now extend this in to ill-prepared people who are entering periods of uncertainty, especially regarding their employment status.
Stress, as everyone should know, is a major, major cause of illness and also subsequently in its effects in damaging relationships. But what a lot of people don’t know or appreciate is that stress is the main cause of ‘longer-term’ sickness and subsequently absenteeism from work. In fact, it’s become, for the very first time, ‘the’ main cause for long-term sickness and absenteeism in the whole of British (and European) Industry.
The present (and worsening) economic crisis is creating, and will continue to generate, such grave uncertainty in people, that when linked with staff who lack job/employment security, and coupled with possibly mental health issues, just further exacerbates the problems.
A recent published survey shows that more than half of employers who are planning for redundancies have seen a rise in mental health issues compared with about a third of those who aren’t anticipating such lay-offs. Incidences of stress related illnesses have risen more during these days of post crisis austerity measures, and especially within the public sector, according to a report published recently by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Half of all public sector employers have seen an increase in staff stress levels and a lowering of morale with failing job security being a major cause in at least a quarter of those cases, compared with around a sixth in the private sector. The findings also show ‘the heightened pressures many people feel under in the workplace that is a direct result of the prolonged economic downturn’, says the CIPD. Managers increasingly need to regain the trust of their employees and are then required to communicate more effectively, clearly and efficiently through these periods of upheavals. These same Managers also need to be able to spot the early signs of people being under excessive pressure or of having difficulty in coping at work and then being able to provide appropriate help, advice and support. It’s encouraging (in a way) that almost half of employers questioned, have a “staff wellbeing” strategy in place with 73% offering some sort of counseling service and a further 69% providing an “employee assistance programme”.
Absence levels are the lowest in the manufacturing sector, at fewer than six days per worker per year according to reports.
Additional to all of this is the experience of the reality of the writer of this article.
Members of the Armed and Uniformed Services are facing very uncertain times indeed for the first time in their history.
All those who are NOT members of any of the Armed and Uniformed Service probably won’t quite understand this but, as a simple statement, when you are in the Service (employed) you are, in effect, a member of ‘the family’.
The environment of these occupations is one of being in a cocooned family environment, it’s a safe haven, it’s the ‘known’ way of life and everyone around you are also members of that same ‘family sense’ feeling.
But when all of this is threatened or taken away, the stress levels of uncertainty are simply huge and complex. It’s true that some counseling does take place, that some short training programmes are provided but … is it sufficient or fit for purpose? We think not.
EQ emotional intelligence is a boon in all of these areas; for the public sector workers, the private sector workers, and the Armed and Uniformed Service personnel. EQ is appropriate for both everyone who is safe and secure in work, but also, crucially, for all those facing that uncertain step in to the ‘unemployed’ reality world.
Awareness and appreciation of our emotions, how they affect us in so many ways, how effective our communication skills are, and how we manage our environment containing family and friends at any given moment in time, is vital.
We really do need to have our EQ skills honed and awareness of our emotional responses to the forefront in order to better cope and manage ourselves when these worst fears materialise ~ being made redundant (what a horrible word and feeling).
EQ emotional awareness is more crucial now than at any time in the past. Employers NEED to be aware of this and to take account positively and proactively to best serve and protect employees and especially those who are in danger of losing their jobs.
Contact us anytime for advice, guidance or support when considering this crucial resource.
Written by Michael Boase