When you think of recruitment, you think of long hours, high workloads and stress. Well that’s the stereotype anyway.
But for some of us that expectation becomes our reality and the stress starts to affect our mental health. A study by the CIPHR found that one in five of us feel stressed more days a month than we don’t. That shows that something needs to change.
It’s an issue in recruitment, perhaps more so than in other sectors, and while we need our employers to take action there are things that can be done to manage your stress and anxiety and create a positive personal workplace.
The cost of stress and anxiety in the workplace
While recruitment is acknowledged to be a busy, at times stressful career choice there’s a line between stress fuelling you and stress feeding from you. When it comes to a point that stress or anxiety is eating away at your mental health then it’s gone too far.
It’s not just the recruitment industry that suffers from stressed employees. In fact, 76% of employees surveyed reported moderate to high or high stress levels. Resulting in 13.7 million working days lost each year in the UK due to work-related stress, anxiety and depression.
Clearly, this is an issue that needs addressing, and quickly. But how do you start tackling stress and anxiety in the workplace? Particularly when everyone has different external factors and thresholds for what’s manageable for them.
Employers have to be part of the solution but employees also need to be active in advocating for themselves and their needs. Easier said than done sometimes, we know. But by creating supportive working environments where mental health is openly discussed, employees can then start to create the working style and implement methods that work for them to reduce their stress levels.
What’s the individual impact?
We know that stress and anxiety impacts businesses and the UK economy, but what about individual people?
It affects everyone differently but stress and anxiety can impact your mood, your behaviour and even your body. With symptoms including:
● Over or undereating
● Angry outbursts
● Chest pain
● Lack of motivation
● Withdrawing from social occasions
● Sleep problems
Any one of those symptoms will have a negative impact on your life, but if they’re experienced over a long period of time they could ultimately lead to burnout or needing extended time off work to recover.
Top tips for managing stress and anxiety
The difficulty with managing stress and anxiety, particularly in recruitment is there isn’t a one-size-fits all approach. Everyone is different. Everyone’s needs are different. And a lot of the time managing stress comes down to understanding what works for you. Saying that, there are a few things that we can all do to put some groundwork in place to help protect our mental wellbeing.
1. Set boundaries and say no
What are your firm boundaries? Most of us probably don’t have any, particularly in an industry where it feels like you always have to be on and have to say yes. But, post-pandemic the world is a different place. People understand the need to switch off, or that you’ve got caring responsibilities you need to tend to.
The important point to note here is you need to be clear and consistent. Have to do the school run on a Friday? Put it in your email signature that you finish at 2.30pm and then do it. Don’t take calls after 7pm? Don’t answer the phone and make sure your voicemail has an up-to-date message.
Boundaries are great, but you need to stick to them unapologetically and soon they’ll just become the way you work rather than something you feel you need to fight for.
2. Manage your time and plan ahead
Workload is the biggest stress factor, and one that many of us have little control over. Particularly when you’re responding to clients and candidates. But having a plan for your day or your week. Understanding what’s urgent, what’s coming up and what can be left for now will help stem the feeling of overwhelm and dread and give you back some control.
Some people might find a project management tool works for them, and others it might be a good ol’ fashioned list. Find the right method to help you manage your workload and focus you on the priorities, and you’ll feel the benefits.
3. Take care of yourself
Sometimes we get so caught up in meetings, calls, and general business that we forget we have basic needs. Food, drink, sunlight, air, sleep. All of those factors are essential to your mental wellbeing and also, to living.
Block your lunch break out in your diary, leave the building or your home, take a walk, eat something delicious and you’ll find yourself refreshed and in a better state of mind to deal with whatever the afternoon throws at you.
4. Check in with others
When was the last time you genuinely asking someone you work with if they were ok, then stopped to listen to the answer? The best way to manage stress and anxiety is to talk about it, but we need to let others know how we’re feeling and that we’re happy to have those conversations.
Starting the conversation can be tricky but communicating how we’re feeling, if we’re struggling or stuck gives others the opportunity to help. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
What can employers do?
In a study by Deloitte 24% of line managers said that employee wellbeing wasn’t their responsibility.
We’re going to pause to let that sink in.
That’s what employers can do. They can start talking about mental wellbeing, stress and anxiety. They can acknowledge that it exists and they can put support in place without any judgement.
The world is a stressful place, you’ve only got to cast your mind back a few years to see what pressures we’ve all been living with. Creating a business culture that doesn’t outcast stress and anxiety as weaknesses and instead accepts that it’s part of being human is the best thing an employer can do.
It’s not all down to employers, but it shouldn’t be left to employees to manage in their personal time, particularly in industries like recruitment that sometimes wears being stressed as a badge of honour.
We should be challenging the notion that being stressed at work is good. And we should play our part in creating thriving workplaces that people enjoy being at while getting the job done while respecting each others boundaries. We’re moving in the right direction, but there’s definitely still more work individuals, and employers can do to manage stress and anxiety.
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