Stress is a perfectly normal part of life. On days where it feels overwhelming, stress can be a genuine issue to our emotional and even physical wellbeing. Introducing healthy workload management into your business can significantly improve employee health, happiness and productivity.
One of the key solutions is to help turn a heavy workload into bite-sized tasks that get done. It’s a key solution to help alleviate stress and prioritise workloads, but it’s not the only way your business can help employees. Cambridge based GetBusy’s CEO Daniel Rabie shares his advice for managing workload stress.
How many people are seeking help for workplace stress?
In the modern age, there is one thing we have in abundance: data. Thanks to the internet, sophisticated models can be built on a person’s likes, dislikes, habits, family connections, and even if they own a pet. This is in large part thanks to social media and search engines. It’s through freely available data for search terms that we can see how stress may be affecting the nation.
Google Trends data for the United Kingdom since 2020 shows a clear growth in terms of stress-related searches such as burnout. From March 2020, there was a clear spike at the start of the first lockdown. The search term ‘stress management’ seems to have fallen during the first lockdown and over the summer months before increasing again.
Winter stress levels are typically higher too. We feel the effect of dark winter months and the cold weather, but the added stresses of living through a historical event have taken a toll too.
How can businesses help to ease the strain?
Even the most balanced of workloads can produce stress points. However, it’s the point where the workload tips into ‘too much’ that productivity plummets.
It’s a fine balance to strike at the best of time and it differs vastly from person to person. One employee’s optimum workload is another’s burnout. Luckily, there are several ways that employers can help ease this strain on a day-to-day basis:
1. Set Realistic deadlines
By setting realistic deadlines you can reduce staff stress significantly. With task management software like GetBusy you can see what people are working on and set tasks in line with their workload.
2. Collaborate more
Feeling like other team members aren’t pulling their weight can be a big stress point within teams. Collaboration is key and monitoring workloads can help, but it’s important not to make others feel you’re ‘snooping’ on them?
3. Talk more
Talking isn’t always seen as a good thing in the workplace. Talk too much and productivity goes down. Talk too little and stress increases, meaning productivity also goes down. It’s another balancing act that has been made harder across 2020, with the switch to home working making us feel more isolated than ever before. There are a few ways you can work to fix this:
- Introduce social chats for that ‘coffee break’ feeling
- Have more one-on-ones (across all team levels)
- Use video calls to keep face-to-face interaction
- Introduce social hours
One prominent thing to keep in mind is the growing importance of work/life balance. When working from home, it is all too easy for workers to start earlier, work later and feel like they never really get to ‘switch off’. Make sure that a set schedule is in place so that everyone knows it’s okay to walk away from work at the end of the day.
4. Encourage breaks
One of the biggest problems of a heavy workload is the feeling of urgency. ‘Just five more minutes’ turns into a full workday with no break. Outside of an office, this is harder to manage but still important. Vocally encouraging breaks, suggesting a quick walk outside and even scheduling in a quick break can help, and most importantly, lead by example.
Ultimately, you can’t make the work go away, but you can introduce the right technology and healthy habits to help make it more manageable.
How to balance heavy workloads and tight deadlines
In 2020, our way of working transformed dramatically. The discussion around remote working mental health and how this has changed workload management has been huge. After all, a heavy workload is stressful enough without the outside pressures of a global pandemic weighing down.
Studies have found that 25% of homeworkers  have struggled with isolation, loneliness and feeling disconnected from colleagues. But at the same time, many also recognise the benefits of saving money on commuting and the quality time they have gained back.
With positives and negatives aspects, it’s hard to say just yet what the full impact on the workforce’s mental health has been.
As 2021 progresses and a more flexible office and home balance is put into place, it will be interesting to see how this evolves. Will the 2021 vaccinated employee feel less stressed in comparison to their pre-pandemic self? Only time will tell.
Stress is a normal part of working life, but that makes it more important to manage effectively. Heavy workloads are avoidable with a transparent, easy to digest, and accountable way of working.
And remember to cut yourself some slack; this last year has been tough.
 Nuffield Health survey 2020
About Get Busy
GetBusy’s document management and task management software enables over 67,000 professional paying users around the world to digitise their operations and be productive while working in the office or remotely.
Listed on the London Stock Exchange, with roots going back over two decades, GetBusy’s growing team of 140 people are based in Cambridge, Houston and Sydney.
The Group has consistently reported annual revenue growth in excess of 15% since its IPO, and it now counts over a third of the UK’s largest and most demanding professional services firms among its clients.
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