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Time to take responsibility and reduce employee stress

Jun 15, 2017
Time to take responsibility and reduce employee stress

Do you ever find yourself wishing that your employees didn’t get stressed out so much? Perhaps you think to yourself that if they were less stressed, then they would be more productive. This is probably true.

But while you are willing to accept that stress impacts employee productivity, I’m wondering if you’re willing to accept a share of the responsibility?

I’m not saying that you should hold yourself responsible for all stress levels throughout your workforce. But as a business leader, you should be at least accepting that work is a leading cause of stress – and that you should absolutely be doing something about it like getting therapists from behavioral health professionals.

Five leading causes of stress in the workplace

90 percent of people attribute at least some stress and fatigue to work-related issues. We learned this during a survey we ran recently – you can read the full report here.

But while this certainly confirms that a lot of stress is work-related, it doesn’t do much to help us take responsibility. So I’d like to point you now to an excellent study by one of our competitors, Cascade HR. Their Stress Report 2016 identifies the following five issues as being the leading causes of work-related stress:

  • Deadlines
  • Workloads
  • Being understaffed
  • Pressure to hit targets
  • Office politics

This puts you in a tough position. You can’t realistically ban deadlines, half workloads, double headcounts and remove all targets. And while some office politics can be tackled by positive team building activities, it’s something that ultimately, you can’t always control.

But there are a few things that you can do to turn your workplace into a more stress-free environment.

Develop a friendlier, more caring management style

The Stress Report 2016 shows us that employees want things like flexible working, early finishes on Fridays, and a friendlier, more caring management style. If you’re going down the route of flexible working, you’ll want to consider cloud-based HR software (instead of desktop hr software)– this will help you stay connected with your workforce wherever they are. Just they need an internet connection on their device whether it is iphone, laptop, ipad or smartphone.

#But what I want to focus on for now is your personal management style.

Again, I’m not saying that you are personally responsible for all employee stress. But adopting a friendlier, more caring management style will certainly help. So here are five bad manager habits that you can start to break right now.

  1. Stop breaking your word. If you make too many empty promises, then your employees probably don’t trust you. If you want to show your employees that you care about them, then keep the promises you make! The easiest way to start keeping your word, is to stop making as many promises. A promise that you don’t know if you can keep might seem like an easy way out of a tight situation. But in reality, it only destroys confidence and increases stress.

  2. Don’t make public examples of employees. I saw a video on LinkedIn, of a workplace where late employees were forced to stand at the front of the room and sing a song. How does this help anybody? It might seem like a bit of fun – but all it is doing is using fear of humiliation to keep people in check. Instead, try dealing with issues privately. This shows employees that you really care about their feelings – and cuts down on embarrassment and stress.

  3. Avoid invading privacy. While it’s understandable that you want to be sure your employees are actually working, breathing down their necks is unlikely to increase productivity in the long run. Where possible, let people get on with their jobs. Invest a little of your trust into their integrity and work ethic –you’ll not only reduce stress, but you might also be surprised at the new results your people achieve.

  4. Remember to reward hard work. Have you ever noticed somebody doing something awesome, but skipped giving them praise because you don’t have time? Or worse, because you don’t want it to “get to their head”? When you spot somebody doing something that exceeds expectation, show them that you’ve noticed by saying thanks. You don’t always have to spend money to encourage good behaviour – and you’ll reduce stress by letting people know they’re doing well with their work.

  5. Stop acting like you know everything. If it’s your way or the highway, then you might be boiling a lot of people’s blood. Nobody knows everything – including you. And besides, if you knew how to do everybody’s jobs better than they did, then why would you hire them? Listen to people’s opinions. Listen to their solutions. Listen to their expertise! Not only will you reduce stress, but you might just discover your “next big thing”.

But don’t be so hard on yourself…

Nobody is perfect. And if you exhibit any – or all – of these habits, then it’s not the end of the world. Take it step by step, and you’ll notice a gradual improvement.

In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to beating your own stress at work:

  1. Beat stress right now. Take a long, deep breath.
  2. Beat stress this week. Get rid of any distractions that are taking your attention away from your workload.
  3. Beat stress this year. Review what you’re eating, and develop a healthy sleeping plan.

I hope this helps you understand some of the things that cause stress in the workplace, and gives you some food for thought on how to beat it. Is there anything that you can suggest for creating a happier, more stress-free working environment?

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