Staff with families: managing workplace stress
While feminism has brought women to the workforce, those who are working and have families can often still find themselves bearing a larger brunt of family responsibility than their male counterparts. This unequal division of the family home can leave women who continue their careers post children juggling a multitude of tasks, managing many demands across their personal and work lives.
Between being mothers, professionals, attending to household responsibilities, and having a personal life, women are often left managing the expectations of multiple roles.
The stressors of too much of this ‘juggling’ can impact heavily on women. Recent data from AccessEAP shows that too many external issues cause 29 percent of women to have difficulty concentrating at work. This is followed by 24 percent who are feeling less productive, 13 percent who are considering resigning, 12 percent having difficulty making decisions, and 11 percent taking more sick leave than normal.
In order to tackle such issues, work environments, awareness, and attitudes need to change to support employees who are juggling many different roles, such as those with children or those caring for ageing parents.
Employees and employers can work together to address the problems at hand and come up with options that benefit both parties. “When businesses take the time to help and assist their employees, we often find that employees put time in elsewhere to assist the business. It is very much a give and take model,” explains Sally Kirkright, CEO of AccessEAP.
“Companies are getting a lot better about offering employees flexibility in regard to job sharing, as well as flexibility around caring for family members. The challenge for some is that roles may not be conducive to flexibility. There may not be the quantity or availability of staff members to fill in gaps where needed. If that is the case, companies need to look at other methods to support employees such as giving them access to work from home or providing wellbeing initiatives.”
AccessEAP suggests that there are many ways workplaces can improve organisational outcomes by supporting women who are juggling their work and family lives, as well as the men who take on an equal responsibility at home, and staff who are caring for elderly or disabled family members.
Employers can promote job sharing if possible, allow for working from home, and can give staff a sense of control over their work and work environment, an approach that can help to mitigate work/life pressures. Taking on strategies that encourage staff to wind down and relax, such as mindfulness, exercise, time out, or meditation are also useful.
Companies should develop managers to be approachable and look for early warning signs of burnout, and encourage leaders to focus on mentally healthy workplaces. Most importantly, though, employers should work to foster an environment of civility and respect, where staff are encouraged to care for one another.