Today, we’re finishing up our miniseries on workplace stress.
We’ve covered a great deal of ground these past few weeks when it comes to this incredibly important yet often overlooked topic. Despite how pervasive an epidemic it is (approximately 40% of employees experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety on a daily basis), not enough workplaces are addressing the issue head on. Instead, stress has become something of a taboo subject that workers shy away from.
Perhaps these workers don’t want to seem ill-equipped to handle the demands of their job. Or perhaps the majority of us have simply accepted that ‘everyone experiences stress’, and so it’s something to simply be swept under the proverbial rug.
This, of course, isn’t a wise move, especially when research repeatedly indicates that stress can eventually wreak havoc on our health by assuming physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, tense muscles, chest pain, frequent colds, and insomnia.
More seriously, when such stress is left unchecked, it becomes a chronic condition that can lead to more grave diagnoses such as depression, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
In Part 1 of this series, we shared warning signs to look for that are indicative of overly-stressed employees. In Part 2, we shared some of the most popular contributing factors to stress and how leaders can help their employees overcome them.
In this final installment, let’s take a look at the 5 remaining causes of stress and what companies and organisations can do to minimise the resulting stress their teams may experience:
Sometimes, employees are already stressed long before they clock in for the day. This is because of popular commuting hassles like heavy traffic. After all, no one enjoys sitting in traffic. One way to resolve this is to adjust employee schedules so that they don’t have to commute during rush hour. Many corporate brands have even begun allowing employees to telecommute and set their own hours, which for some may prove to offer a richer work/life balance that effectively reduces stress.
It seems that meetings in the workplace sometimes run the risk of getting longer and longer as time goes by. The problem with long meetings is that while the leadership may think they’re covering a great deal of ground and moving everyone forward, all employees can think about is all the work waiting for them back at their desks–work they need to get done before they can head home for the day. This can cause employees to come to resent meetings and find them pointless. To resolve this, consider setting a time limit for every meeting. Adhering to a pre-planned agenda is also helpful. Any outstanding issues can be addressed in the next meeting or simply emailed to all attendees in digital minutes.
Many employees are dedicated individuals who are willing to work hard and get their projects done with excellence. However, when they lack control over how and when the work is performed, it can lead to overall job dissatisfaction and a great deal of stress. How can managers solve this problem? Continue setting objectives for your team members, but let them be the ones to control the manner in which they achieve the desired results. In other words, give them more autonomy. It will allow your employees to feel like they have ownership over their tasks, which leads to better work output.
Lack of feeling valued at work
Do you regularly thank your team members for a job well done? Everyone likes to feel appreciated and everyone likes to know that they’re a valued member of a larger whole. It’s a validating experience to be shown appreciation. Unfortunately, many companies and organisations have forgotten this and months or years can go by without ever offering so much as a nod of approval to employees. This in turn lowers morale and leads to employees feeling like they can easily be replaced at a moment’s notice. The solution? Whether it’s a small note, a gift card, or simply a word of acknowledgement in your next team meeting, be sure to recognize your employees for excellent work. It’ll boost their confidence and create a desire in them to continue going the extra mile.
A heavy workload
Finally, one of the biggest contributing factors to workplace stress is simply a heavy workload. Every day, employees are expected to meet growing demands of work output with nonstop excellence, and after a while, it can lead to total and complete burnout. This only results in exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm, and dwindling motivation. To combat this, many companies have established ‘employee assistance programs’ to assist their employees in dealing with stress and burnout and/or they regularly offer stress management training. While stress management is very much an ‘individual’ matter, an organisation at large still plays an important role and should diligently offer educational programs as well as organisational change where it regards workloads, community, values, and more.
Stress is common in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be detrimental to the morale and productivity of your employees.
Learn to identify the warning signs of persistent stress so that you can encourage and empower your team members before the condition becomes chronic and starts interfering with their work.
Further, using the strategies shared throughout this series, identify ways you can resolve the stress issue in the workplace and create an environment where your employees are not only healthy but also happy.