Stress is one of the most underrated problems of any workplace. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t a problem of which everyone is aware. On the contrary: pretty much everyone knows that stress is a problem in the workplace. The main problem here - the reason why it’s an underrated issue - is that everyone assume that there’s not much you can do about it. After all, it’s just work, right? That’s just the way things are. And the better you do and the higher up the career ladder you go, the worse it’s going to get. Why dwell on it for too long?
Of course, there’s always something that can be done about stress in the workplace. But employees often don’t feel that they have much power to do so. Not a great state of affairs - and certainly one that may make them feel even more stressed! Business owners should aim to reduce employee stress in any way they can. Otherwise, you may be facing serious problems when it comes to productivity and turnover.
Do your researchIt’s not enough to simply say that work causes stress. There are always specific problems that exacerbate work stress, and it’s your responsibility to find out what those problems are, because it’s going to cause a lot of damage to employee satisfaction if you don’t deal with them. One of the difficulties that many business owners face is that they are often the last to know about these things because employees tend to talk amongst themselves about issues. So consider sending out an employee survey, which can be done anonymously if you want to achieve the most honest result possible.
An improved work processOften, the causes of stress at the workplace turn out to be related to some form of mismanagement. After all, if employees are working overtime, then that’s due to a fault of the employer when it comes to scheduling. Improving how project management is actioned throughout the office can make a huge difference. And make sure your employees actually have the technology they need to do their job!
Direct assistanceSometimes, problems with stress aren’t always 100% down to what occurs in the office. Employees may be having some difficulty in their private lives, or may even have lifelong problems with depression or anxiety. One of the ways some business owners choose to handle this is to introduce an Employee Assistance Program. Typical EAP elements include telephone counselling , often delivered by counsellors who are directly employed by the EAP provider. This sort of approach shows that you’re really willing to go the distance for your employees - which, in itself, can help improve moods!
A lighter atmosphereBe honest: is your office atmosphere a bit dry? Are the managers a bit harsh? Do you get visibly stressed when things go wrong? All of these things help keep the vicious circle of stress generation turning. It may be that creating a lighter atmosphere in the office is precisely what you and your employees need.
Remember: with stress reductions comes boosts in productivity. Don’t make the mistake of thinking workplace stress is no big deal!