Stress Awareness Month – Katie Bullock

By Ben Carey on 22 April, 2021

Looking after the mental health of ourselves, our staff and our colleagues is perhaps more important now than ever.

During national Stress Awareness Month this April, The Business Exchange is sharing insights and advice from health and wellbeing experts across our business community.

This week’s interview is with Katie Bullock, HR Manager at Swindon-based specialist tech company Ntegra. With a team across the world of more than 60 people, Katie believes stress levels over the last year have inevitably increased.

Helping your team to cope with stress

Do you think about stress among Ntegra staff?

I am always conscious of stress levels among the team and feel it’s my responsibility to be doing all I can to help reduce it. With every new client-win we celebrate, or successful project we deliver, I know how much hard work and plate spinning happens behind the scenes.

Our team are so focused and dedicated to delighting our clients that sometimes stress is inevitable, however we work hard as a management team to monitor and maintain that balance. 

Has this awareness increased during lockdown?

Absolutely. Looking back to this time last year, we were staring into scary unknowns, yet I am so proud of how we navigated this. From the very start of lockdown, we made it a priority to keep everybody connected and engaged and keep morale up through various initiatives, events and open and honest communication.

We are lucky to have had our busiest year to date, which has meant growing and training new team members remotely. It’s all-new terrain which is inevitably stressful but ultimately going through the ups and downs with integrity and respect for our people has only made the business stronger. 

How can others in business (HR managers or managers) recognise tell-tale signs of stress?

It’s important to understand what a good and bad day looks like for individuals, because everyone is different. The parameter is different for each person and even for that person, their stress threshold can change.  

It is important to build the psychological safety and trust for individuals to be open about how they are feeling, and to respond with empathy and support. Some signs might be sudden changes in mood, a change in their contribution to work, or a dipping of their energy levels or even an unnatural ‘spiking’ of those energy levels.

What tips would you have to ‘call it out’?

Firstly ask the individual how they are feeling, you’ll probably need to ask twice, but if you have the right relationship, they should open up.

There isn’t much that can’t be solved by talking a problem through openly and I am also big advocate for taking a break and revisiting the thing that’s causing stress with a refreshed mindset. 

What activities have you organised within Ntegra to support employee wellbeing? 

We have various initiatives which work together to support employee wellbeing. Our managers have been trained in effective communication and having difficult conversations, so they are well equipped to support anything which is causing stress in their teams.

We have facilitated emotional resilience and stress management workshops, we have weekly yoga sessions and we have employee feedback groups where individuals are invited to share any concerns or stressors without judgment.

We also have regular social events such as coffee mornings, games and ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’ where we take it in turns to share tips.

All these events are designed to maintain strong relationships, encourage collaboration and build trust. 

Find out more about Ntegra