Manager: are you allowed to ask your employee to take a stress test?
You might recognize it: one of your employees appears to be feeling dissatisfied. You might even suspect the employee to be suffering from stress. But what do you do? Is it even your responsibility to spot stress in an employee, and are you allowed to ask your employee to take a stress test without overstepping a line? Read this blog entry, where we will try and answer the above-mentioned questions, as well as mention some of the many challenges you as a manager can experience if your employee shows symptoms of stress.
Stress can cost you over 1 million DKK as a manager
Possibly an employee popped into your mind when reading the above paragraph. Statistically, it would make sense, if this happened. Stress occurs to more than 500.000 Danes annually and is responsible for more than 1.5 million extra sickness absence days annually, shows figures from Stressforeningen. And since a notification of illness can cost you over 1 million DKK as a manager, there are barely any managers who can afford to not focus on stress and the prevention of it. Therefore, it can be a good idea to be at the forefront of stress so that both you and your employees can stay clear of stress.
It is your responsibility
During the last many years of working with stress in companies, we have talked to managers who have wondered whether it is really their or the employee’s own responsibility to prevent stress in employees. And although circumstances may change, our response is always very clear: as a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employees do not get stressed!
But how do you do that? Another question we often encounter is whether, for example, you are allowed to ask your employee to take a stress test, or whether it will seem offensive? There is no one-size-fits-all answer here because as a manager you cannot completely guard yourself against how your employee will receive such a request. Some will experience it as a liberating breath that creates clarity and communication, and others will see it as an attack and shut down, which will only make the problem worse. Therefore, it is important that you handle this carefully. We recommend that you as a manager encourage the employee in question to take an interview with a work psychology consultant, and if the employee himself expresses a desire for this, a stress test may be an option.
No matter if the employee has actually hit the load limit and has been stressed, or if the employee may still have some strain to give off, then a conversation with a work psychology consultant will be able to increase prevention and treatment. Therefore, it is never ‘wasted money’ to invest in such a conversation, and both you and your employee will subsequently have clarity about the employee’s well-being, have a clear understanding of what the next thing in the process should be, and in addition know that it is all being handled by professionals with many years of experience.
A stress test that works
If you have already introduced your employee to the idea of a conversation with a work psychology consultant, and your employee has said “yes, thank you” to the course, then it can be a really good idea to suggest that the employee takes a stress test. This is because a stress test will ask the employee some questions that create reflection regarding their own well-being. This reflection is in fact reminiscent of a diary, and the thoughts and discoveries that come out of such a test could form the basis for a more focused conversation with a work psychology consultant. The most important thing here is that the employee himself wants to take the test and that the test is reviewed in conjunction with the work psychology consultant.