Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Fight or flight – it’s not a thing of the past!

Over the millions of years of evolution, one thing hasn’t changed that much...our biological response to stress, known as ‘fight’ or ‘flight’. What has changed is society’s idea of how it is acceptable to react, especially in your workplace. Managers and HR definitely don’t want to see fights in the post room or staff fleeing their desks when it all gets too much. So the question turns to how do we manage this? How can HR support staff to deal with these biological reactions?

As we all know with the joy of working with people comes the different personalities and the understanding that Tom won’t react in the same way that Joyce does. Stress is based on the notion of how we perceive a given situation and the tools we have to cope. Everybody has different ‘trip wires’ for example to one person standing and speaking to a large crowd is no problem to another it’s the most terrifying experience they could encounter.

By acknowledging the trip wires of your staff you can support them to overcome the stressful reaction. For some people the reactions become almost unmanageable and can lead to mental illness. For an employer this is far from ideal, the cost of sick pay, a loss of a valuable team member and a drop in productivity (which is a big cost for a small employer). You can ensure your support is given by doing the following things;


  • An open communication channel.  Prep an employee if a big project is coming up, ask them how they feel, can they handle the responsibility? Have they done public speaking before?
  • In house training. New IT systems may be easy for you to get your head around but for some employees this can really throw their work off kilter, leaving them with a panicky feeling when invoicing comes up. 
  • Back to work interviews, no you’re not just being nosey! This is a great way to establish patterns of behaviours and find out if there is something deeper going on.
  • Don’t micro manage, this can be a bug bear for some people anyway but given the bigger picture this also allows for employees to become comfortable in the knowledge that everything will be taken care of for them. We all need a little bit of stress to get the job done and if you’re away for annual leave or taken sick who will pick up the pieces? The amount of panic and stress that will spread across the office can have a knock on effect on their quality of work. Allowing others to think for themselves from time to time will also make them more resilient because they’ve taken knock backs before.


We will be talking more about resilient mindsets, ‘trip wires’ and supporting your staff in our workshop on March 10th Don’t miss your chance to attend, all places are free. We will be hosting at the Corsham Community Campus with two additional guest speakers Heather Girling from LifeCraft and Michael Gardner from ACAS. To book your place visit: Work Wiltshire Events Page.

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