Stressed-out, unhappy workers are not good for anyone. It can even become contagious.
It is vital that you act if your employees are constantly stressed at work. Leaders and managers can implement a variety of strategies to reduce workplace stress.
Check if your organization is setting realistic work schedules and workloads. Work-Life Balance is an important risk-control measure to reduce work-related anxiety. Work-life balance is an important risk control measure for work-related stress. If you fail to identify and manage workplace stress, it can have a long-term impact on your employees’ health and business.
Take a closer look at your team. You might find some signs that they are under stress. It’s vital that you regularly assess the stress levels of your team as a manager or leader. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do your employees always skip lunch in order to finish their work? Staying at their desks all day and skipping breaks can make them appear as dedicated team members who prioritize work. It can be unhealthy if staff don’t take the time to eat healthy meals to fuel their day or go for a short walk to increase their level of activity. This could be an indication that they have too much to do.
- Does your staff take their work home with them after work hours? The workplace should not be the place your staff goes to relax and unwind after work hours. They may not get the rest their bodies and mind need if they work long hours on weekends or at night. It may also take away time from family, friends and other important relationships for their well being.
- Do they rush their work? Do you receive reports that are incomplete, not proofread or below par? Employees who are stressed and feel there is always more to do may rush through their tasks. This can result in a substandard output.
- Are they overly emotional, edgy, or irritable when they are around you? When your staff act in an uncharacteristic way, like snapping at you or crying over something they would normally not cry about, this could indicate that they are having difficulty coping with the pressures of work.
- Have you noticed that people’s attention levels are waning during meetings? What about team members who jump from project to project? Too many thoughts can cause the brain to be overloaded and your team may lose focus.
What are the common causes of stress at work?
It is essential that as a business leader, you are aware of the common causes of work stress. Understanding what causes stress in your employees will not only help you to perform a better assessment of risk, but you’ll also likely come across as an empathetic leader.
This list outlines scenarios that could lead to stress at work.
- Culture or lack thereof
- Trauma and loss
- Low or no Change Management
- bad management practices
- Client and peer demand
- Working environment
- Employee relations
- Lack of resources
- Team or individual skill sets
- Role conflict
- poor ergonomics.
How can you reduce workplace stress?
Stress is a normal part of life. These strategies for managing workplace stress can help you prepare and minimise the negative effects. If your team are not in a good way, not sleeping well at home or having issues, it is normal but if it continues, you should start to look out for them.
Prepare to reduce the impact
- Managers and employees can be trained in Mental Health First aid or Wellness to better understand mental health issues. You should educate and train your employees about how to distinguish between healthy stress and unhealthy stress levels, and also teach them how to recognize signs of workplace stress. You should also provide information about where people can go to get help if they experience mental health issues.
- Encourage an open culture about mental health. Let employees know it is OK to discuss stress at work and that asking for help is not a weakness.
- Flexibility is key to your business. Flexible work hours, job-sharing, compressed workweeks, and telecommuting are effective ways to help employees balance their demands, manage stress, and be more productive.
- Avoid emailing or calling your employees after hours. You should make it clear in an email that the recipient is not expected to reply immediately. This can cause stress. If you must call after normal working hours, limit calls to emergencies and avoid disturbing people when they are sleeping.
- Reflect on your leadership style as a manager. Do you have tight deadlines all the time? You are disappointed with even the smallest mistakes. Do you give the work to people who are capable of doing it? You may not even be aware that you are a major stressor at work!
Stress management at work: Managing the effects
- Encourage employees to use ‘personal’ leaves when necessary. Make it clear that appointments with doctors and counsellors are covered by leave entitlements. Flexible arrangements for ‘personal’ leaves may allow employees to plan their leave in smaller chunks, so that they are absent for only a short time without taking the entire day.
- Give employees a place to rest or take a break. Some of the biggest companies, like Google and Uber have nap rooms. Others have wellness rooms to help employees recharge during the day. Employees who are constantly busy are likely to miss out on rest and relaxation. This can lead to stress at work. Employees can regain energy by taking a break at work, whether it’s to meditate or nap.
- A mini-gym and/or a game room can also be a great option for the more active employees. Exercise and play release “happy” hormones, which may help your staff cope with stressful work situations. Even a short break each day can help your team feel more relaxed and ready to tackle their work.
By law, employers are required to provide a safe environment for employees to perform their duties. In addition to causing health problems and poor performance in the workplace, failure to comply with this law could have legal consequences. It pays to pay attention to your employees’ stress levels and to take proactive measures to improve their working life.