Don’t Let Stress Get the Best of Your Workplace
January 12, 2015 | Staffing Blog
Every job – even one you love – comes with some level of stress. There are deadlines, proposals, presentations, meetings and demanding clients and customers. Sometimes all these responsibilities come rushing in at once and it’s tough to keep your stress under control.
For managers and supervisors, it’s critical to keep an eye on employees’ stress levels. Occasional bouts of stress are normal and even a healthy sign that your employees are committed to their work. But stressing for a couple days over an important client project and stressing for weeks or months are two totally different situations. And long-term workplace stress isn’t beneficial – or healthy – for anyone.
Workplace stress can cause employees to be fatigued and distracted, which can lead to injuries and accidents. Stress can cause them to drink, smoke and eat poorly, which leads to health problems that result in missed work days. Plus, stressed employees are irritable and can lash out at co-workers – making the office a stressful place for everyone.
This 2013 Forbes.com article points to a study that found more than 80% of American workers said they feel stressed by their jobs – an increase from 73% in 2012. Low pay, an unreasonable workload, commuting and poor work-life balance were among some of the top stressors.
So how can managers help employees rein in their stress levels?
- Recognize the signs of stress. Pay attention to employees who seem anxious or irritable. Take note if an employee begins missing work, has trouble concentrating or seems distracted. These can all be signs of stress and a signal you need to intervene.
- Help employees prioritize their workloads. A crushing workload is a top reason for workplace stress so as a manager you have the power to manage that workload. Talk with the employee about his workload and responsibilities and then assess where changes can be made. Maybe you need to redistribute some work, bring in an assistant or rearrange some projects so there’s adequate time for the employee to complete everything without dissolving into a ball of stress.
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle. Give employees time to hit the gym, stock the office kitchen with healthy snacks, and give employees the opportunity to work from home and avoid a stressful commute. Allowing for “mental health days” gives employees the freedom to take a day off from work to recharge even if they aren’t physically sick.
- Build in some fun. All work and no play makes for a stressful office. Close up early on Friday afternoon and take everyone to the bowling alley or mini golf course for a couple hours of fun. Cater in lunch so everyone can take a real lunch break and relax for an hour. Building fun into your culture lets employees know they don’t have to be serious and working like mad every second of the day.
- Have resources and support available. Whether it’s in-house or outside counseling or support services, let employees know help is available. They shouldn’t be made to feel bad if they ask for assistance in getting their stress under control – whether it’s caused by work or personal issues.
Taking workplace stress seriously benefits the employees and the company as a whole. It’s tough to be productive and profitable if employees are too frazzled to focus on the task at hand.
Check out this article for more tips and resources on managing workplace stress.