Stress Management in the Workplace: Part Three
Work-related stress is a growing concern for businesses in every industry. Without stress management in the workplace, employees are more likely to experience burnout and reduced job satisfaction.
To ensure your organization deals effectively with stress in the workplace, it’s important to understand the factors that contribute to stress and the benefits of effective stress management strategies.
Why is Workplace Stress so Common?
The American Institute of Stress found 75% of employees believe they have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. In fact, 1 in 4 employees view their job as the number one stressor in their lives. Unfortunately, a culture that equates stress with success has become the norm in modern workplaces.
This should not be the case. Job-related stress poses a threat to the health of workers. In addition to posing a risk to employee well-being, the effects also put the health and profitability of your organization at risk.
Identifying the triggers and effects of work-related stress is your first step to stress management in the workplace. Understanding the benefits of stress management in the workplace also helps you get started with the right policies and procedures.
Health Concerns of Workplace Stress
The current culture of viewing workplace stress as normal is harmful to employees’ mental health, but its effects don’t stop there.
Chronically stressed employees suffer from a wide range of harmful effects, including:
Research shows that extreme pressure in the workplace can also hamper productivity and motivation.
Overly stressed employees may become reluctant to participate in teamwork and struggle to meet deadlines. Poor work performance and impulsive actions are commonplace as is an increase in the usage of substances like nicotine and alcohol to cope.
Long-term issues from workplace stress include cardiovascular diseases and immune deficiency. Poor mental health may also be triggered by chronic workplace stressors.
Beyond being detrimental to employees, these issues can cause significant increases to your company’s healthcare costs, lead to more accidents and injuries in the workplace, and increase absenteeism. This further reduces the overall efficiency and morale of a work environment.
It is time for organizations to turn away from the culture of stress.
What Causes Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress can happen for a variety of reasons, including:
- Poor relationships at work
Poor workplace relationships can leave employees feeling isolated. Conflict with co-workers can cause anxiety that leads to increased absenteeism. A non-inclusive or ‘cliquey’ environment can also be a source of stress.
Employees not included in social groups at work will weaken employee relations. This prevents team members from building a sense of belonging and feeling valued. Employees experiencing isolation in the workplace are more likely to leave, leading to increased costs in recruitment and training for your company.
- Lack of support
A lack of support, training, and direction from managers can lead to confusion at work. Uncertainty around employee responsibilities and duties can be a source of frustration and low confidence in an employee’s ability to perform.
Employees who do not feel supported are less likely to take initiative. They are also more likely to take extended time to complete tasks.
- Long hours and heavy workloads
Many jobs have placed growing pressure on employees to work longer and harder. Additionally, many companies expect their employees to complete massive volumes of work in a short amount of time. These lofty expectations and heavy workloads can contribute to significant employee stress.
- Poor working environment
Workspaces in which bullying and harassment are tolerated lead to an increase in stressed-out workers. Team members in these environments may feel as though their input is not valued. Feeling like they have no control over how they are treated at work can be a stressor.
- Job insecurity
Today’s economy is highly competitive and volatile. Unpredictable staffing conditions and the great resignation have led to over-hiring and substantial, unbudgeted increases in wage costs. These efforts are not always sustainable and have led companies to lay off employees, creating job insecurity. This increases workloads for remaining workers, adding further strain.
- Outdated tools and technologies
Working with clunky, outdated technology can be stressful. Employees may struggle to be productive without functional and efficient tools at their disposal.
- Unclear expectations from management
Vague instructions and expectations from managers can quickly lead to conflict at work. This places undue stress on all parties involved.
More Negative Effects of Stress
Workplace stress can have negative effects for employees that will also negatively affect your company. If you do not take steps toward stress management in the workplace, you will see increased costs to deal with these negative effects.
- Low morale and motivation
Stress is often brought on by pushing teams to meet tight deadlines and production goals. However, this reduces employee morale and motivation. This has the ironic effect of reducing your team’s productivity.
- Poor employee retention rate
Workplace stress leads to high employee turnover rates. Feeling too stressed at work will make employees look for less stressful and more engaging positions elsewhere.
- Poor mental health
Stress can cause many mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. For employees with poor mental health, the effects of stress could make underlying struggles worse.
- Poor physical well-being
There are many well-documented links between stress and poor human health outcomes.
Stress can cause sleep disorders, weight gain/obesity, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. It can also cause other dangerous health conditions such as a weakened immune system, gastrointestinal problems, and increased risk of heart attack.
- Impacted personal and workplace relationships
Stress can prevent employees from devoting energy toward their relationships. Workplace stress makes it difficult for employees to form positive workplace relationships. It can also chip away at existing bonds with peers.
Beyond workplace relationships, personal relationships also often suffer from workplace stress. Overly stressed employees might find it difficult not to bring those negative feelings home. This can blur the healthy boundary between work and personal life. Having work-life balance gives time to invest in strong, healthy relationships.
- Work-life imbalance
Stressed, overworked employees work too many hours trying to meet tight deadlines. Unrealistic production expectations can leave them with little time for friends and family members. Having a poor work-life balance and not taking time for their personal lives further exacerbates their stress levels.
Learning effective stress management in the workplace is essential for protecting the mental and physical health of your employees. Plus, it ensures that everyone can work to the best of their ability without burning out.
5 Benefits of Stress Management in the Workplace
Providing effective tools and resources for stress management in the workplace will not only help your employees maintain their health but will also help you improve the health of your company.
Proper stress management in the workplace leads to:
- Greater job satisfaction
Employees who have the skills to manage stress at work are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. This job satisfaction will cause employees to stick around long-term, reducing your costs for recruiting and training.
- Reduced employee turnover
High employee turnover can be extremely costly to organizations. Happy employees are far less likely to leave their jobs in search of kinder environments. This will help to minimize employee turnover and its associated expenses.
- Improved work quality
Calm employees are better equipped to communicate effectively with managers and peers. They’re also more likely to produce high-quality work that meets your expectations.
- Improved self-worth
Employees who are successful at stress management in the workplace are more likely to respect their peers. And they are more likely to feel valued and respected in return. This will improve their self-worth and encourage them to contribute to collaborative projects.
- Overall better physical health
Proper stress management in the workplace leads to better health outcomes. Reducing employee stress can lower rates of disease. This also provides them with more time and energy for health-promoting physical activity.
Conquer Workplace Stress
Understanding the factors and benefits of workplace stress is the first step. The next step for stress management in the workplace is to put procedures in place that help you navigate and conquer work-related stress.
- Learn what triggers workplace stress
Does conflict or yelling send stress levels soaring? Do tight deadlines and unclear instructions leave your employees struggling to cope?
Learning what triggers workplace stress is essential for stress management in the workplace. Make a note of each situation that leads to increased stress. Try to recognize any patterns so you can tackle those specific stressors.
- Create work-life integration
It’s crucial to encourage employees to look after their own personal needs and set aside ‘me-time’ regularly to prevent burnout. Encourage them to spend time with loved ones outside work and prioritize time for rest.
- Stay organized
Create schedules for yourself and encourage employees to do the same. Provide resources to help everyone work on time management skills. Divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable sections. This will help employees feel in control and keep stress at bay.
- Get plenty of sleep
Experts recommend enjoying at least eight hours per night of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep hygiene will help you and your employees get enough high-quality sleep to keep stress under control.
- Eat a healthy diet
Nutrition and mental health are closely linked. Encourage employees to include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and water in their daily menu.
Make sure everyone takes regular meal breaks and encourage them to bring a healthy meal to work each day. This can help reduce the temptation to eat unhealthy snack foods.
Make Stress Management Part of Your HR Infrastructure
In today’s rapidly changing world, more people are experiencing elevated levels of workplace stress.
It is crucial for every one of us to learn how to cope with bad stress and embrace good stress. Good stress is the type of stress that may arise from doing something demanding but doable.
Learning and teaching effective strategies for stress management in the workplace can help you identify your stress triggers. Making this part of your overall HR infrastructure also ensures you have the right tools to protect your employees’ mental and physical well-being for years — even under pressure.
Need help to get the right resources in place? Contact us to help you get your stress management on the right track.
Need more resources for stress management in the workplace? Check out our stress-management series.