Employee stress is a problem. For every employee. At every organisation.
In 2020, of British adults in employment – a staggering 79% commonly experience work-related stress. This is 20% higher than 2018's findings.
Stress naturally occurs in the workplace, but when left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on employee health and productivity. In fact, stress has been associated with physical problems like a weakened immune system, stomach aches, high blood pressure, hair loss and headaches. It can also cause problems with concentration and teamwork—and ultimately productivity.
So what can you do?
How can you fight stress at work and avoid all those negative consequences? By addressing the problem head on. Some ways you can do this as a manager or leader are:
You’d be surprised at the amount of stress that stems from a lack of communication. Many people aren’t stressed by the work they’re doing, but by the uncertainty regarding the project as a whole—or by the work of those they’re partnering with. Encourage your employees to approach their supervisors and leadership teams with questions and concerns helps to ease any uncertainty.
And right now, stress is stemming from a range of other issues, so make sure you are there to talk to about what’s happening and how you can best support your teams with challenges that are affecting their working lives.
The words you choose in the workplace play a huge role in the overall corporate culture. Happier words lead to a happier culture and happier employees. So choose positive messaging. Positive messaging means using words and communication that bring about positive interactions. It involves being personal, encouraging, passionate and empowering in your interactions.
Two huge sources of workplace stress are work-life balance and a lack of control over daily tasks. Allowing employees an opportunity to work flexibly addresses both of those common stressors. When employees choose their schedules, they’ll set a schedule that works with their lives at home, particularly now with challenges like home schooling
It’s important that the communication coming from leadership teams is clear. Whether it’s meetings, emails or memos. Expectations need to be defined and questions need to be answered, if not the uncertainty created adds to stress.
Allow people to unplug
A lot of stress is caused by the constant nature of the digital communication channels we use. Even when attempting to focus on one project, employees can be bombarded with notifications from a million different digital platforms. Consider making time for your team to “unplug” as a weekly plan. Encourage employees to silence phones, sign out of email and shut down messaging systems. Allow them a quiet afternoon/morning with no distractions.
Set clear Expectations
Most employees know their role in an organization—they know what they were hired for. Unfortunately, many employees don’t know what’s expected of them in that role. Yes, their duties might be clear. But how, when and why they’re supposed to take care of those duties might be a mystery. Make sure employees understand what’s expected of them so they aren’t stressing out about something that’s actually irrelevant to them.
Be kind and appreciative
A kind word can be a very simple stress reliever. Sometimes, at work, you can’t actually take away the source of the stress. Stress is just present in some workplaces due to the nature of the work. You can provide stress relief by taking a completely different approach with a compliment or a simple thank you.