From education to employment

Stress Awareness Week


Following on from National Stress Awareness Day last week, we have continued to receive comments to shine light on the critical role of mental health in an educational journey, but also in the workplace.

Joseph Landes, co-founder of Nerdio, on Stress Awareness Week (7-11 November)

“Even in 2022, mental health often gets overlooked. Both in and out of the workplace, the state of our mind is often dismissed as secondary to our physical, financial, or professional wellbeing, and we often fail to recognise the inter-connected nature of all the above.

Stress Awareness Week gives us an opportunity to stop and reflect on the crucial ways in which stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues impact our day-to-day lives. I believe that business leaders need to go beyond the abstract and think about what tangible help they can give their workforce. Supporting flexible and hybrid work set-ups, for example, is a great way of creating better work-life balance, giving employees the freedom to choose when and where they want to work.

With today’s powerful tech tools, hybrid work is easily achievable. The days of floors of people working side by side using fixed hardware are over, and leaders need to provide flexibility in the devices their employees use and where they use them from to help support today’s work environment. Providing this freedom will in turn support employee’s mental wellbeing, helping them to fit their ‘work life’ around their everyday life.”

Kelly Metcalf, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at Fujitsu:

“Reflecting on National Stress Awareness Day this year will look much different to the last two years. In the past, the focus was on supporting employees’ wellbeing in response to the pandemic, but now the precedent has somewhat changed. We’re living through heightened times of uncertainty, with many concerned about the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. And of course, employees will have their own individual stresses. Although some may ring similar, everyone’s circumstances are different.

“Organisations have a duty of care for their people, and a fundamental part of this means not only embedding wellbeing more formally into their working policy and culture, but offering it on a personal level. This is particularly important in today’s job market. For example, Microsoft’s latest annual Work Trend Index found that 53% of employees are more likely to prioritise health and wellbeing above work than before the pandemic. If organisations are committed to the wellbeing of all employees, then bespoke policies and a holistic approach to supporting the mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing of their people will be essential. Critically, as employees are less visible on a day-to-day basis – support must be appropriate and tailored to the working model – whilst recognising the diverse needs of the workforce.

“Insight to where organisations should focus their wellbeing efforts is best derived from a combination of measurable people data and people’s experiences – this ranges from insight such as retention rates, absence, EAP usage, exit feedback, pulse surveys etc. – all of which can uncover patterns and identify workforce needs. From there, personalising offerings then relies on the support and commitment of line managers to know each of their people as people and to engage with education and training that enables them to support their teams on challenging topics and implement tailored individual support. Creating this sense of being cared for by an employer on a case-by-case basis not only results in happy, healthy and productive employees; it helps to retain and attract new talent too.”

Daniel Hill, Regional VP of EMEA, Instructure:

“University is certainly an exciting time for students – but it can also be challenging and stressful, between navigating coursework, deadlines, and personal life. In fact, the biggest factors that impact a student’s ability to engage with their studies are psychological well being (90%) and access to mental health resources (88%), according to data from a recent global study by Instructure, the maker of Canvas. The study found that institutions that prioritize the mental health of students have a higher likelihood of maximizing student success. For universities, building a culture of care should be a bigger priority than ever before.

“As the university experience continues to evolve in a post-pandemic world, some institutions are placing an increased focus on mental health care as an integral part of the higher education system. A brilliant example of a higher-ed institution doing this well is the University of Wolverhampton, which added mental health resources in an easy-to-access place for all students. The university implemented quick access to mental health resources directly from Canvas, its LMS. In addition, the university created PACE, a solution created in collaboration with other learning institutions, to address the mental health difficulties of students who undertake placement learning. PACE uses innovation and an intersectional approach to recommend relevant mental health resources to help students manage the challenges that come with placement learning.

“As we observe Stress Awareness Day on 2nd November, it’s important for universities to reflect on the critical role psychological wellbeing plays in the learning journey. Institutions that take a holistic approach to learning by addressing mental health needs will have a greater impact on overall student success. “

Sara Holmberg, Head of HR at Winningtemp,for International Stress Awareness Week –

“Chronic, unrelenting stress are not only known to trigger long-term illness and affect productivity, but it is also considered to be one of the top drivers of burn out and resignation amongst employees. More and more people are expressing a shift in priorities with an increased focus on health and work-life balance. While many were previously more worried about the various aspects of their jobs and career development, there is now a renewed emphasis on mental health and attaining emotional well-being. And although eliminating all work related stress is nearly an impossible task, employers must now do more to help their employees better manage their time and agree on expectations. 

As a first step, having an open and honest two-way conversation with your staff regarding expectations and any upcoming changes within the work environment can not only enable them to stay on track or top of things but can also reduce the feeling of anxiety and create a sense belonging. Although there are many factors that trigger stress in the workplace, any type of change in work processes or systems can leave employees feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Now, as more businesses continue to undertake business transformation initiatives to cope with economic uncertainty, equipping your employees with a tool to voice their opinions can help to better understand their emotions towards the workplace. In the long run, this can even prevent them from eventually quitting their jobs due to burnout.”

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