Managing Stress in the Workplace: Part One
In today’s ever-changing work environments and uncertain economic times, managing stress in the workplace has become increasingly important. Job security fears are high, workloads and required job skills are shifting, and communication needs are changing with multiple generations working together and remote work increasing.
Add these heightened workplace stressors to the everyday workplace pressures and personal challenges faced daily, and these issues can lead to increased health issues and reduced productivity among employees.
Workplace stress doesn’t just affect the employees directly impacted; these issues also have consequences for the entire organization. Managing stress at work starts with understanding what contributes to these stressors. Once you understand the stressors, you can put processes and tools in place to help employees better manage these issues.
Factors Involved in Workplace Stress
A certain amount of daily stress is normal as it is a natural reaction to change. However, when stress is prolonged or reaches extreme levels, it can lead to health issues that require professional help.
A recent survey reveals profound statistics that shed light on the impact of workplace stress on the well-being of employees.
- 34% of employees report a decrease in their overall mental health due to stress in the workplace
- Stress has resulted in diminishing feelings of belonging for 37% of employees
- 37% of employees report a lower level of work engagement due to stress they experience at work
Most alarming, 26% of employees attribute their increased stress and reduced mental health to toxic work culture.
The pressures and demands of work can take a toll on employees, affecting their psychological well-being. When stress becomes overwhelming, employees may feel disconnected from their colleagues, leading to a sense of isolation and reduced engagement. This is because stress can drain an employee’s motivation and enthusiasm, making it difficult for them to perform at their best.
Toxic workplace environments such as micromanagement, lack of support, or hostile workplaces can increase these workplace stresses and have a detrimental effect on employee well-being. These statistics emphasize the need for managing stress in the workplace so your leadership can prioritize employee mental health.
A lack of effort to manage these stressors can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover rates. It is in the best interest of employers to limit stress at work and find methods to help employees cope with stress in the workplace. There are numerous approaches companies can take to reduce and control stress.
Managing Workplace Stress
To ensure that stress management efforts gain attention, it is necessary to link them to business outcomes. This will allow your organization to track measurables such as productivity, absenteeism, and turnover towards monitoring how stress control techniques are working.
Before implementing a stress management program, you must first determine the root causes of stress for your employees. This can take the form of employee opinion surveys, interviews, or other means of reviewing employee input. Managing stress in the workplace effectively starts with implementing strategies that meet employee needs.
Supportive Work Environment
Develop a positive and supportive work environment to reduce workplace stress. You want a work culture that values open communication, respect, and collaboration to meet employee and organizational needs. This includes encouraging employees to share their concerns and providing resources for managing stress effectively.
Encouraging better work-life harmony is also essential. Employees should be encouraged to take vacations and breaks that allow them to disconnect from work and spend time with their families or pursue outside passions and hobbies.
Consider Flexible Work Arrangements
52% of employees believe that having a flexible work schedule would benefit their mental health. Offering flexible work arrangements such as hybrid schedules, remote work options, or flexible hours can help employees better reach work-life harmony and alleviate workplace stress caused by rigid schedules.
Address Toxic Behaviors
To reduce harassment and discrimination that can lead to overwhelming stress, it’s important to identify and address toxic behaviors promptly. Provide training and support to management that addresses developing interpersonal and leadership skills that will help them support employees in need.
Provide Clear Expectations
Workplace stress often originates from unclear instructions. Make sure leaders set clear and realistic expectations for employees, providing regular feedback and keeping communication open. You also want to provide recognition for employee achievements to keep them engaged.
Promote Mental Health Initiatives
Your benefits package and training options can include programs geared toward employee mental health. This can include employee assistance programs, counseling services, or mindfulness and organizational skills training. Encourage employees to prioritize self-care and provide resources that support their well-being.
Avoid “Firefight” Mode
While there may be times when employees need to put in extra effort to meet deadlines or solve challenging problems, it becomes an issue when this is the norm rather than the exception. Help employees manage workloads and implement effective time management efforts to reduce pressure and balance stressful periods. These efforts will prevent employees from remaining in a constant “firefight” mode.
Prioritizing and Organization
Organizing, planning, and prioritizing work can significantly reduce unnecessary stress. Work areas and workflows should be organized so employees know what is required and can access the necessary tools to meet their goals. Work strategies should be planned out at company, team, and individual levels so goals are clearly understood and prioritized.
Identifying and focusing on the most important actions helps employees with managing their workload and managing stress in the workplace. Involve employees in setting expectations and goals to give them a sense of control.
It also helps to reduce repetitive tasks that can be easily automated. These routine tasks should be streamlined or eliminated wherever possible.
Relaying Job Security
Although job security can’t be completely guaranteed, there are measures you can take to reinsure employees and contribute to a perception of stability:
- Share positive company results
- Remain transparent with business changes
- Celebrate wins and acknowledge progress
- Recognize employee accomplishments
- Invest in training and development opportunities for employees
- Involve employees in decisions that impact them and encourage them to contribute ideas
By implementing these strategies, organizations can help employees feel secure and worthwhile in their roles.
Managing HR Initiatives to Manage Workplace Stress
By prioritizing managing stress in the workplace and improving employee well-being, organizations can create a healthier and more productive work environment. Taking action to reduce workplace stress not only benefits employees but also contributes to the overall success of your organization by encouraging a positive and engaged workforce.
If you need help implementing effective tools and resources for managing stress in the workplace, contact us to learn how we can help build these techniques into your HR infrastructure.
For more information on Workplace Stress Management, read on to Part Two of the series, where we will explore additional strategies.