Work-related stress is a problem that affects the well-being of employees, leading to decreased performance and productivity. It is considered one of the reasons for the health disorders that employees experience. Learn what causes work-related stress and the importance of reducing it. Here is a comprehensive guide that can help organizations deal with employee stress and reverse its effects.
What Is Employee Stress?
Employee stress is caused by several stressors including, but not limited to the following factors:
- Bad organizational culture
- Poor management practices
- Overall work environment
- Relationships and communication with peers and leaders
- Changes in management
- Conflict with assigned roles and job expectations
- Unfair job demands
These cases are often found in an office setting. However, employee stress is not limited to those who work in the office. It can also be experienced by those who are home-based or work remotely.
For those on a work-from-home or remote setup, stress can be caused by:
- Lack of business structure
- Too many distractions
- Social isolation
- Setting boundaries
- Lack of physical activity
Regardless of the work setting, people who are experiencing work-related stress may observe the following symptoms related to the issue:
- Irritability and mood swings
- Sleep disorders
- Upset stomach
- Dermatological problems
The good thing is that there are several ways to reduce employee stress. The following tips will majorly apply to relieving stress felt in an office setting, but these can also be adjusted for work-from-home employees.
Tips to Reduce Employee Stress
1. Schedule stressbusters
Short walks every morning, games nights, and yoga sessions in the middle of the workweek are typical stress busters that companies can initiate to help their employees. Scheduling something that employees can look forward to for stress relief helps reduce the tension buildup they have been enduring.
Social activities not only liven up the environment but also encourage better interactions with coworkers. Improving relationships with others help take down communication barriers that can cause misunderstandings in the future.
2. Make communication easier
Much of the stress workers feel continues to pile up because they do not have the opportunity to communicate their concerns. Usually, it is not the work alone that burdens an employee, but also the uncertainty of a project, disagreements with coworkers, or the stubborn stance of a manager or boss setting impossible deadlines that bring about an increase in stress.
Opening communication channels and encouraging employees to approach their team members can help ease any uncertainty they feel. Supervisors, team leaders, managers, and even those in upper management should be more open to receiving feedback, suggestions, and even criticisms from employees.
3. Practice positive encouragement
Words, especially coming from leaders, have a huge impact on the morale of the employees and the culture in the workplace.
Positive messages promote a happier culture and a more content workforce. Complimenting a job well done, congratulating teams for milestones accomplished, and rewarding employees from time-to-time, help empower people to always do better.
On the other hand, negative messages, especially when delivered in a blunt and insensitive way can negatively impact the self-esteem of everyone in the team. While it is important to provide feedback and be transparent with a team if they are doing bad, there is a proper method of communicating such information. Shaming people in front of others or calling them names will only increase the animosity in the workplace.
4. Rearrange the workplace
Decorating and rearranging the office might seem trivial, but it can aid in relieving employee stress. Involving employees in reorganizing the place will help take their minds off work, even if just for a short duration. Moreover, it will give them the power to decide what they think will be good for their working environment.
Renovating the office space is also recommended to change the overall atmosphere of the place. Allowing more sunlight in, repainting the walls with lighter colors, and switching to more natural lighting can improve the overall comfort of working in the office.
Incorporating active design is also advisable to encourage employees to move around more. Short walks from one place to another provide enough rest time from stressful work schedules. It also subtly invites physical activity, which is good for the health of employees in an office space.
5. Consider making schedules flexible
A major cause of stress among employees is the lack of control over their schedules. Management may have been reminding everyone to maintain a work-life balance, but at the same time enforcing inflexibility when it comes to scheduling deadlines.
An 8-to-5 schedule need not start at exactly 8:00 AM. Showing flexibility by giving a leeway of 30 minutes without being tagged as late may be a sufficient show of faith to employees. Besides, they can leave at 5:30 PM to complete the 8-hour shift stated in their contracts.
So long as employees submit deliverables on time, consider allowing a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to office hours. The action might be contrarian with the thought of instilling discipline by arriving at the scheduled time. But in exchange, showing a little sensitivity and flexibility can improve long-term relationships with employees.
Remote working can also be considered an option. This policy helps the management show confidence in their employees to still do the job assigned to them even without supervision and a more relaxed work schedule. With the COVID-19 pandemic we saw vast changes in labor markets across the world and remote work was one of the trends that were accelerated.
6. Balance employee workload and scheduling
Time is essential in running a business. Clients will not accept delays in deliverables, which is why there are deadlines that need to be followed by everyone.
However, it is often improper scheduling and imbalanced assigning of workloads that often lead to employee stress. The management might be assigning tasks to teams without properly looking at their schedules and workload. This may in turn lead to rushed deadlines that can result in poor output quality and increased discontent with management.
Knowing the capabilities of each member and setting a realistic timeline for deliverables can lead to better time and load management. While clients are stern with their deadlines, managers and team leaders have the power to push back and bargain for more time before committing to deadlines.
7. Keeping private time private
There is nothing more stressful for employees than receiving calls or messages from their supervisors to get online during the weekend, or worse, while they are on paid vacation leave. As clients demand to always be prioritized, unplugging from work seems to be increasingly less likely to happen for employees unless their managers know how to handle things.
The management of a company should be aware when work starts to creep into the private time of employees. The stress buildup that this event creates causes employee burnout that may result in high attrition rates.
Assigning a support team to handle client concerns when the rest of the workforce is on leave or break is the best business practice to resolve this issue. It provides people the rest they deserve while ensuring client concerns are immediately attended to even outside of regular office hours.
8. Maintain a healthy snack bar
Snacking is a good way to relieve stress in the workplace. However, eating absolutely anything can also be bad for productivity and health.
Eating greasy and sugar-rich foods can crash energy levels, making people sleepy after. It is great for businesses to keep their employees healthy and satisfied by providing food, but no company wants their people to be dozing off after meal or snack times.
By providing healthy snacks that boost energy and focus, companies can have happier and more content employees, while also benefiting from their increased productivity. Additionally, providing healthy snacks can help people maintain a better diet.
Having an inviting pantry or kitchen area where employees can take a break and socialize during lunchtime can also help in stress relief. It can provide a change of scenery that can re-energize employees working on stressful tasks.
9. Make your meetings meaningful
In almost every company, there are managers and team leaders who seem to love conducting meetings even for the minutest things about a project. It is counterproductive, especially when updates and reminders can be sent through email or private message. Dragging everyone into the conference room is a waste of time, especially if the goal of the meeting is just for the sake of doing it.
Meetings should be meaningful, quick, and concise. The agenda for setting them up should be relevant to everyone invited. In case a meeting is necessary, make sure that there is a clear-cut direction on what needs to be discussed and concluded to avoid wasting time.
10. Set clear expectations
While employees know what they have been hired to do, they are often expected to do more. The problem here is that the hiring team or the management often fail to clarify what exactly it is that employees must provide to the business other than their output.
Clarifying duties and the purpose of the job can eliminate ambiguities that cause employee stress. Knowing what they need to do to provide value to the company helps them act to the best of their abilities. It also helps employees set boundaries, and avoid being exploited to do tasks that are outside their job description.
Setting expectations and clarifying their purpose in the company can give employees a sense of responsibility, knowing that their work is vital in keeping the business operational. If they see the ‘why’
with what they are doing, they are more likely to overcome stress and do more than what is expected of them.
The Importance of Reducing Stress
Reducing employee stress has numerous benefits for the company, including:
- Improved physical and mental health
- Lesser chances of injuries or illnesses
- Reduced absences and use of sick leave
- Lower attrition rate
- Increased productivity
- Greater job contentment
- Enhanced work engagement
- Better work culture
- More open communication
- Healthier exchange of feedback for improvements
- Stronger relationship between employees and management
Creating a Better Workplace Environment
Employee stress is unavoidable no matter how great the working conditions are that the business provides. There will always be issues in the management, employment, culture, and workplace that need to be addressed proactively. While unavoidable, there are several effective ways to reduce the effects of stress both on the company and the employees.
Try out the methods discussed here and see which of them works best with the present circumstances. It may take several tweaking and adjustments to determine the best setup that will benefit the company and the workforce.
INS Global as an Expansion Partner
As one of the best global expansion firms in the world, we deal with various HR issues involved in setting up in a new country. We are able to help you hire and pay staff all around the world, through our employment solution. If you are interested in setting up your business in a new country INS Global is the ideal partner to help you simplify the process. We allow you to hire staff without setting up your own entity, recruit top talent, manage your payroll and much more. Get in touch with us today and let our consultants assist you in your global expansion.