Keep calm and stress less

International Stress Awareness Week is 5th to 9th November 2018, with the UK holding its National Stress Day on 7th November.

We all know what it feels like to be stressed. Experiencing pressure is part of everyday life. But when stress becomes overwhelming, it can exacerbate an already difficult situation and lead to mental health problems.

The Labour Force Survey 2016-17 stated stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 40 per cent of all work-related ill health cases and 49 per cent of all working days lost due to ill health. The HSE used this same survey to calculate that 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depressions or anxiety in 2016/17.

As we consider this issue, importantly highlighted via the National Stress Awareness Day, we asked a member of our team to share her thoughts and past experiences of stress at work. Here's what Kate Neilson, our HR Manager, had to say.

I need to leave early. The traffic will be bad. Where will I park? How much will parking cost? I'm late! I've got tight deadlines to meet. I daren't ask for help...

It's only 08:30 and I arrive at my desk flustered and stressed. In no time, thoughts of: How will I leave work on time? I can't possibly get all this work done. I won't feel safe walking 20 minutes alone in the dark to my car when I finish work...

Thankfully, such memories of stress at work are a thing of the past, when I was working for a different company in a city centre location.

I am now the HR Manager at Swift Research and I am proud to say we experience very few stress related issues amongst our staff and absenteism isn't a concern. I think this is an accolade to how the company deals with such matters, if and when they arise. And it's not just down to our absence and holiday policies (which are quite generous for a small business by the way).

As a small company, we have a strong family feel. This allows us to build a good rapport and positive working relationships with staff. Our teams are supportive and social. Our offices are being restructured around the existing natural light and fresh air, all contributing to a workplace environment people are happy to be in.

And that's not all. We are located just off the motorway on the outskirts of a small town where all staff can park in the car park right outside the building free of charge. There are even spaces for those who choose to work late, immediately outside the door.

My morning stress, from years ago, has disappeared!

Swift Research embraces flexibility; staff have a high degree of control over their day to day work. Everyone pulls together when the pressure's on; sharing projects/skills/ workload, working remotely or outside of traditional office hours when needed. Autonomy is empowering and can help overcome situations that would otherwise be stressful and challenging. As a result, our staff are more committed and engaged with the business if we allow them time for their families and personal commitments.

Swift Research has a strong foundation and a culture which aims to delivers a low-stress working environment. We are committed to maintaining a friendly, flexible, supportive place to work where our people can thrive. This is something we are very proud of.

Kate Neilson
HR Manager

For more information about National Stress Awareness Day, including tools to help you deal with stress, please visit: