Stress is something which is becoming more and more common within today’s society. While stress can be caused by sleep deprivation, bad health, strained relationships and financial concerns, research suggests that the number one cause of stress is, in fact, work-related pressure. Stress is dangerous for the human body – high levels of prolonged stress can either cause or exacerbate a variety of health issues, including conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, other mental illnesses, and obesity-related illnesses. The effects of stress have employers paying around fifty percent more in health-related costs every year, but the effects of stress also mean that they are losing in the area of employee workability – regarding productivity, medical absence, staff turnover, and staff disengagement. As bad as straightforward workday stresses are, the current economic climate has only added to that in the form of anxiety over whether certain people and their workplaces will be the next to be sucked under in the tide of economic woes. This double-hit of stress and anxiety means that there has never been a better time to address the effects of stress.
Lead by Example
One of the best ways to begin reducing stress in your workplace is through leading by example: a leader needs to be able to control their own emotions, so they can better control their image. If you are feeling under stress, angry, or negative in any way, try your best to make sure that it does not rub off onto your employees; all you will accomplish is to make them feel stressed, angry and negative, which doesn’t help anyone! If you are trying to bring new methods of dealing with stress into the workplace, make sure that you practice what you preach – give yourself enough time to decompress after a workday, in whatever form works best for you: go to the gym, meet up with friends, enjoy time with family.
In a similar way, in the workplace, a manager could take the initial steps towards helping their employees deal with stress. Instead of scheduling the more informal meetings in a boardroom, they could use walking meetings instead, to give everyone a change of pace. Making sure that employees are taking regular breaks, particularly if they are on a production line or something similar, will also help to destress, even if only a little.
Think about Employee Surroundings
Reflect on the employers behind various social media sites – what are they famous for doing (aside from creating social media sites)? They have each created a truly unique space for their employees – something which focuses entirely on the needs of those employees.
Every little step towards improving the workplace environment helps. During the next budget allocations, consider spending money on some new workplace furniture – it will brighten the space up, and may even encourage the employees in a physical sense if you can persuade the accounting department to spend money on ergonomic furniture or standing desks. Other ways to renew the employee environment is by redecorating, adding plant life, or even switching up the cookware in employee kitchens. You know what they say; change is as good as a rest!
Encourage People to Take Breaks
Another good innovation in this area is a proper break room. As was mentioned above, sometimes people just need a break, particularly if their work requires them to focus intently for long periods of time. The provision of a quiet room, filled with comfortable seats and couches, with relaxing décor, can work wonders for someone who is feeling stressed. Even such a short break as fifteen minutes can mean an employee will feel relaxed and refreshed – and be ready to re-engage with their work when they return.
Be Flexible with Working Hours
Working hours which are impossibly strict can be one of the leading causes of stress in a workplace. Allowing employees more freedom when it comes to setting their own hours or choosing from some different options will have a positive effect on their well-being, which translates into better work for the company.
Giving employees the option of different working hours means that they can choose the option which works best for them in terms of what is happening in their lives as a whole. Number two, giving employees a choice in how they work tells them that you trust them; this will help them relax, thus reducing stress.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is immensely important for any company, and it is particularly important in reducing employee stress. Keeping people up to date on what is going in the company and what is going on with their jobs, is a huge factor in reducing people’s anxiety about where they stand and whether they will still have a job in six months. As a manager, it is important to keep the channels of communication open and flowing in both directions. If you share what is happening in the company and you make it clear that you are attuned to their needs and anxieties, it is much more likely that employees will come to you with their concerns, rather than letting problems flourish into stress.