AccessEAP blog

Create a work environment to help manage workplace stress for women

Create a work environment to help manage workplace stress for women

Increasingly, employed women who have families are expected to juggle a multitude of tasks, managing many and varied demands and responsibilities across their personal and work lives. Between being mothers, carers – of children or aging parents, attending social and work commitments and tending to household responsibilities, women are juggling the expectations of multiple roles.

With so many competing demands and expectations, the struggle to keep up with both work and home commitments adds to stress levels. When stress persists to a point that a person feels they aren’t coping, it can affect the functioning of their day-to-day life as well as their overall wellbeing. The stressors of too much ‘juggling’, together with trying to do things well and be ‘good’ at everything, is impacting on women and their ability to sleep, think clearly and make decisions.

Our data shows that a large number of external issues affect women in the workplace, with the top presenting concerns being anxiety, relationship issues, depression, other family member issues and personal stress. The data also shows that these top presenting issues, in turn, impact on work performance with 29 percent of women having difficulty concentrating at work. This is followed by 24 percent feeling less productive, 13 percent considering resigning, 12 percent having difficulty making decisions and 11 percent taking more sick leave than normal.

In order to tackle such issues, the work environment, awareness and attitudes need to change to support employees who are juggling many different roles (i.e carers). 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.

Companies are getting a lot better about offering employees flexibility with regards 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.

There are many ways workplaces can improve organisational outcomes by supporting women who are juggling their work and private lives. Here, we provide some tips on how workplaces can provide that support:

  • Practically re-evaluate job descriptions to provide role clarity and promote job sharing if possible. - Assess working from home arrangements.
  • Give staff a sense of control over their work and work environment which mitigates work/life pressures.
  • Support strategies that encourage staff to wind down such as mindfulness, exercise, time out and other wellbeing initiatives.
  • Provide support to encourage leaders to focus on mentally healthy workplaces. - Examine workplace HR policies to see how the organisation can assist parents and carers.
  • Foster a workplace environment of civility and respect.
  • Develop managers to be open and approachable and look for early warning signs.