Almost two-fifths of UK businesses have seen an increase in stress-related absences over the past year, with managers and management style increasingly being blamed, a CIPD survey has found.

The majority of respondents said heavy workloads (62 per cent) were to blame – a problem they frequently attributed to managers – while 43 per cent said management style was a direct cause of stress, up from 32 per cent the previous year.

Often the challenge lies in firstly recognising the gap between what the training businesses provide and the expectations placed on leaders and managers. People management too often becoming ‘bolted on’ as an additional extra to the role of line managers.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, having wellbeing addressed at work increases productivity by as much as 12 per cent. Employees tend to perform better when they feel valued and supported, which gives them higher levels of wellbeing.

Creating a workplace environment that enables everyone to thrive is critically important. Creating a safe place where working styles and relationships can flourish will ultimately lead to increased productivity and growth.

I have noticed with increasing frequency people saying:

I dread coming to work
I feel so anxious when I know my manager is in the same building, let alone the same room
I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing, I keep being told to do something different
I am so confused one minute they want one thing, the next something else
I am scared I will get it wrong
I don’t know whether I am doing even a slightly good job these days
I am doing the best I can, working all hours, I never get any positive feedback 

Some of the metaphors I am hearing:

I feel like a washing machine on fast spin
Every time I find a new path it has a dead end
The firing squad are coming, heads down!
I feel like I’m sinking, running out of breath, my legs are about to give way
I literally can’t see the wood for the trees, sometimes I can’t even see the trees

If you recognise any of this discovering more about the work of the late Judith E Glaser on Conversational Intelligence may be of interest to you. 

Conversational Intelligence works on shifting the focus to the needs of the individuals whilst working on the collective ‘We’.  It provides a resource and the answer to the ‘how’ in terms of the P and E of the change management RPE model.  It explores the neuroscience behind conversations.  How different parts of our brains are triggered through our conversations and how we can develop conversational skills that will help us to become more successful in our interactions with others.

Good mental health at work and good leadership go hand in hand.

If you’d like to know more please contact me at suewinton.open2change@gmail.com.