In this article, you will learn what signs to look for in employees who are under pressure so that you can prevent them from having to take sick leave. It also gives you concrete tools to help employees under pressure when they need your support.
How do I know if an employee is under pressure and needs my support? This is a question many leaders ask themselves because employees under pressure often keep their discomfort to themselves. Therefore, in order to help stressed employees, <hl>you first need to know who needs your support.<hl>
When we become stressed, it is because there is an imbalance between our demands and resources. Or to put it another way: when we feel unable to cope with the challenges we face - both at work and in our personal lives.
To help your employees balance demands and resources, you first need to know what signals to look for.
To explain the progression of stress, we can use the stress ladder.
The stress ladder was developed by Marie Kingston and Malene Friis Andersen and is widely used in organizational psychology in Denmark.
The stress ladder consists of 5 phases:
<hl>The further your employee moves down the ladder, the more stressed your employee is<hl>. If your employee is on the top step, it means she is thriving and not showing signs of stress.
The temperate phase is where the employee is thriving in the workplace, among colleagues, is satisfied with their tasks, and delivers high quality.
When employees are in the tempered phase, there is no need for leaders to worry about their well-being and stress levels.
At the same time, there are still things you can be aware of as a leader to create the best conditions for your employees to stay in this phase and not move further down the stress ladder.
Research by the Danish National Research Institute for the Working Environment (NFA) suggests that <hl>six factors, in particular, are important for high well-being, low sickness absence, and good performance<hl>. By knowing these six factors, you can help to promote the well-being of your employees.
If you can promote each of these six factors as a leader, you can help create the best conditions for your employees to continue to thrive.
When an employee starts to show the first signs of stress, it means that they have moved into the heated phase.
Here, the employee finds that the weight of demands starts to outweigh the resources. They are often in a hurry and have to speed up to achieve their tasks. It becomes difficult for the employee to maintain an overview and they may find it difficult to assess how resources and tasks should be prioritized.
As a leader, you can spot the heated employee by:
If you have an employee in the warm-up phase, <hl>one of the best things you can do is help them prioritize their tasks<hl>. This is because if you are getting stressed, it becomes harder to decide which tasks are important and urgent and which are not so urgent.
It may therefore be a good idea to ask how the employee is feeling so that you can find out whether the employee is busy, under pressure, or stressed. To help the employee get back on track, introduce them to the prioritization matrix so they have a concrete tool to help them prioritize their tasks.
The Priority Matrix was developed by Stephen Covey. It is divided into 4 fields in which you place your tasks:
1) Important and urgent,
2) Important but not urgent
3) Not important and urgent
4) Not important and not urgent
It is a good idea to complete the priority matrix with your employee the first time. Start from the employee's core task.
The closer a task is to the core task, the more important the task is. <hl>Important tasks are, for example, the tasks on which the employee is evaluated, which can be described as primary tasks.<hl>
When you and your employee place the tasks, start in field 1 for important and urgent tasks. Next, fill in box 2 for tasks that are important but not urgent, and finish by filling in boxes 3 and 4. As a general rule, you should only place 5-10 tasks in the "important and urgent" field, so that your employee can keep track of them.
By using the matrix and placing the tasks in the different fields according to importance, it will be easier for the heated or slightly stressed employee to prioritize his or her time.
Once the tasks in box 1 have been completed, take the tasks from box 2 and move them to box 1.
If the initial stress symptoms from the heated phase are allowed to develop, the employee enters the overheated phase.
This phase is characterized by <hl>a lack of overview, working overtime at odd hours and the employee often appearing absent<hl>, avoiding eye contact, and generally being evasive towards you as a manager and towards colleagues.
As a manager, pay particular attention to if:
If you are concerned that one of your employees is in the overheated phase, you must help them set a framework and direction. <hl>The overheated employee often finds it difficult to plan their time and resources<hl>, so you as a manager may need to be clear and take some control.
You can do this in three ways:
By being clearer as a manager, you can help the employee not to fall further down the stress ladder.
The overheated phase is the center of the stress ladder and therefore <hl>represents a kind of tipping point<hl>. From here, the employee can either tilt towards recovery, through personal stress management and help from work and family, or the stress symptoms can escalate, and the employee can move further down the stairs to the meltdown or burnout stage.
The bottom two steps of the stress ladder are called the meltdown and burnout phases.
They are called this because, at this level of stress, <hl>the employee may be on the verge of taking sick leave<hl>.
The stress signals and symptoms from the earlier stages have escalated to such an extent that it is important to consider what external treatment services you, in the organization, can make use of. This could be health insurance, psychological help, or considering whether sick leave is the best option for the employee.
When an employee is in the meltdown or burnout phase, there will be some obvious signs that you as a manager can notice. These include increased sickness absence, increased levels of errors, tasks being handed in at long intervals, and deadlines being missed
The meltdown or burnout can also be recognized by the fact that the physical, psychological, and behavioral stressors from the earlier phases have escalated to the point where they make it difficult for employees to engage as part of the workplace at all.
As a manager, you can see this by:
Far from all employees are even aware that they are in the meltdown or burnout phase. <hl>Their system is running in 'survival mode' and they are trying, with the few resources they have, to maintain their ability to work and some normal behavior.<hl>
If you as a leader have an employee who is in the meltdown or burnout phase, it is therefore particularly important that you insist that it is your responsibility to intervene - even if the employee does not want help at first.
There are several ways you can intervene with the burnt-out employee. It depends both on the general practice of stress management in your organization and on your relationship with the individual employee.
If you are comfortable talking to the employee yourself, the first thing to do is to talk to the employee. You should talk about what you see and the concerns you have about the employee's well-being and stress level. If you don't know how to approach your employee, it's a good idea to consult the HR department in your organization. They can help you facilitate this difficult conversation constructively.
What stresses us varies, and no two employees react in the same way when they are under pressure. At the same time, there are often some typical signs that indicate that an employee or colleague is becoming stressed, and you can use the stress ladder for this purpose. When you know the typical signs, you know what to look out for, so you can intervene when needed.
Psykolog: Sådan undgår du opsigelser fra Generation Z
I denne artikel finder du ud af, hvad I skal fokusere på i din virksomhed for at tiltrække og ikke mindst fastholde den nye generation på arbejdsmarkedet. Generation Z.
Sådan opnår du den rigtige work-life balance
Har du den work-life balance, du gerne vil have? Læs med her og find ud af hvilken balance der passer dig, og hvordan du opnår den.
The Future of Workforce: Understanding Generation Z
In this article you will find out what you need to focus on in your company to attract and not least retain the new generation in the labour market. Generation Z.