There’s no denying that stress is something that one can expect in a demanding work environment. But this doesn’t mean that management shouldn’t do anything to make their employees feel less stressed! In fact, management should actively find ways to create a less demanding, more employee-friendly work environment.
Remember that chronic stress affects workers’ mental and physical health and can also lead to low productivity and poor performance.
Top Causes of Stress at Work
Many factors can lead to stress in the workplace. As part of the management team, it’s essential to determine how many of these factors are present at your workplace and how you can reduce workers’ stress by eliminating or minimizing them.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 46 percent of workers cite unmanageable workloads as a major stressor.
Considering the fast-paced life that people lead these days, employers expect productivity in the workplace. However, many employers think that increased productivity is achieved by placing a heavier workload on employees. The opposite is actually true.
Overworked employees become stressed-out people who could suffer from mental burnout and even physical health issues. Eventually, this could lead to lower productivity and absenteeism. It’s highly counterproductive.
Conflict with coworkers or management
In their bid to help the company achieve its goals, managers have high-performance expectations. Oftentimes, however, ineffective managers cause confusion in the team and can add to their stress levels.
The same study that identified heavy workloads as the leading cause of workplace stress revealed that conflict or other issues with coworkers and management accounts for 28% of these factors.
Struggles with work-life balance
Difficulty in achieving a healthy work-life balance accounts for 6% of the reasons why millions of workers feel stressed out. What’s worse, mentally exhausted workers become unhappy family members at home.
Job security and unemployment
Many people fear for their jobs and how unemployment could affect their families. This could lead to anxiety in the workplace, especially if employees constantly receive negative feedback from management.
How Great Managers Can Help Reduce Stress in the Workplace
Employees are more effective at their jobs if they’re happy. They’re more likely to become productive if they feel that their efforts are recognized by the company. They’ll be less likely to be absent if the workplace environment is fun.
Alleviate heavy workloads
After learning that having heavy workloads is the leading source of stress for workers, the practical first step you should take to reduce stress at work is alleviating the burden on your people. That’s easier said than done, of course, but you can start by eliminating low-impact tasks from their workloads.
Be sure to speak to each individual to determine which tasks aren’t worth their time or effort. Try to remove these from their schedule, but make sure that this won’t negatively impact the company either.
Clarify priorities at work so that people can focus their efforts on the tasks that are really needed.
Encourage employees to be physically active
These days, many employees lead a sedentary lifestyle because their jobs involve sitting for long periods. This could also lead to stress. That’s why it’s a good idea to encourage workers to move their bodies.
Ensure they understand that appropriate responses to challenging situations at work can help them have healthier minds and bodies.
Encourage relaxation and mindfulness in your team
This isn’t a common way to reduce stress in a demanding workplace, but if people slow down and meditate, they’ll relax and feel less stressed. This will lead to improved productivity.
While they relax, encourage employees to focus on unwinding. This means they shouldn’t answer emails during this time.
Help employees manage long hours
Typically, workers do an eight-hour shift, but plenty of jobs require more extended hours. If this is the case in your company, you must help employees manage these longer working hours.
Allow employees to take a five-minute break every hour. This will help them recharge a bit, enough to stay focused for another good hour.
Improve employees’ financial security
Workers feel stressed out at the thought of losing their jobs and knowing that they’ll be unable to provide for their families when that happens. Improve financial security by ensuring that people don’t constantly feel on their toes and unsure whether they’ll be fired anytime soon.
Being paid performance bonuses is also a solid motivating factor.
Improve team relationships
Internal conflict is the second most common reason for stress in the workplace. That’s why it’s a good idea that everyone gets along as much as possible. While you can’t control how everyone feels or who eventually becomes good friends at work, you can help improve team relationships.
Organize non-work team events or schedule group projects. Working and achieving goals together can strengthen the bond between people, leading to better relationships and fewer conflicts.
Bring fun into the workplace
For many companies, fun and games don’t belong in the workplace. But several multi-national companies believe the opposite. The Google office in Zurich has a slide that leads to the cafeteria. Red Bull in London has a lounge-like office where everyone can relax while working.
The AOL headquarters in California has a game room with pool tables, while Facebook’s office, also in California, features fun-filled spots and playgrounds. Perhaps you can introduce employees to ESPA so they can play games and have a good time during their breaks.
Set clear (or clearer!) goals for your team members
Don’t be the source of your team’s stress. There are many instances where management teams give conflicting or confusing instructions that cause workers to make mistakes. Redoing tasks takes time, adding to their stress levels.
Aside from more precise goals, teach employees ways to stay organized. Remember, they can procrastinate all they want, but it’s stressful for them to try to meet every deadline at the last minute.
Remember, workplace recognition boosts career happiness
Give your team lots of opportunities to grow but also be sure to recognize their efforts. Moreover, it’s vital to help them boost their career happiness through promotions and regular salary increases.
Good mental health is the product of a good work environment where management is committed to reducing stress. Do your part by maintaining a positive outlook and encouraging employees to find ways to reduce stress, with your assistance, of course!