Strategies for Employers to Reduce Stress in the Workplace
Employees today are more stressed than ever before. In fact, eight out of ten employees report being stressed by at least one element within their workplace.1 In a work culture that increasingly values productivity, efficiency, and success above all else, it can seem that the work never ends. To help improve productivity and promote wellness, here are some strategies for employers to reduce stress in the workplace.
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Understand Your Employees
The first step here is to get crystal clear on what the major causes of stress are for your employees. You’ll want to take a moment to understand what they need in order to be productive and at ease, then figure out how your organization can begin to accommodate those needs.
Create a survey or hold focus groups to drill down on these needs and priorities. Actively soliciting feedback helps employees feel as though their voices are valuable and heard, and it can give you a clear sense of where to start. For your workplace, the solution to reduce stress may be a more flexible work remote policy. Or maybe an improved benefits package could help to relieve stress. You won’t know if you don’t ask your employees first.
Set Realistic Expectations
One of the biggest causes of stress is a combination of increased workload and unclear boundaries. When unrealistic expectations are set at all levels of your organization, stress can pile up fast. Take a pulse of employee workload satisfaction and align on objectives for performance that are achievable within typical working hours. This is something that can be easily gauged in focus groups or surveys mentioned earlier. It’s also something that can be measured in regular check-ins with managers.
Formalize a manner for employees to work directly with their managers to manage their workload, and work with human resources to develop objectives for every position that make sense for what’s feasible in a 40-hour workweek.
Lastly, ensure that these expectations are being followed at all levels of your organization. If C-suite level employees are emailing at all hours of the evening or imposing undue pressure on subordinates, the sentiment trickles down, no matter how much work you do to create boundaries and set expectations.
First Aid For Stress
Knowledge of stress in the workplace is the key weapon in managing stress management, so conquer work-related stress and anxiety with this collection of effective activities designed to help you cope with everyday workplace aggravations.
Evaluate Your Benefits
Empowering employees with the freedom and flexibility to work in a way that’s compatible with their mental needs is crucial. This is especially true in a time where technology enables us to work from virtually anywhere, in any manner.
Formalize a work remote policy if it’s possible, allowing employees to work from home a set number of days a week. When employees have these permissions written into policy, they’re more likely to feel empowered to actually use them.
Having limited sick time or vacation time is another common source of stress. Consider increasing sick and vacation time policies that enable employees to take the time they need for physical and mental health.
Hold Managers Accountable
Direct supervisors typically set the tone at each level of your organization. If you’re creating a movement toward stress reduction from the top, make sure every level of management is setting that tone for their direct reports. This could be part of regular manager evaluations for employees in addition to being part of managers’ job descriptions and objectives. Formalizing stress management as part of management goals will help create accountability at every level of the workplace.
Conflict & Stress Management Training
Equip employees with the tools and resources they need to manage stressful situations. In addition to general capacity and culture issues imposing stress, another source of stress can be interpersonal relationships and navigating office politics.
HRDQ conflict and stress management training help employees learn how to mindfully de-escalate tension-charged situations, while actively listening, practicing empathy, and understanding how to get along with colleagues productively.
Resilience Customizable Course
Resilience is designed to give participants the tools they need to identify workplace stressors, end self-deprecating talk, build communicative workplace structures, and calmly deal with change. Participants will be able to calmly handle daily upsets, have better relationships with coworkers and clients, and find greater happiness and satisfaction in day-to-day work life.
Recognize A Job Well Done
As important as it is to ensure employees are not overworked, overburdened, and overstressed, it’s true that some seasons of work are busier than others. When employees do need to put in the extra work to meet a deadline, make sure they receive recognition and gratitude for their extra effort. Consider spot bonuses, raises, and organization-wide shout outs to give credit where credit is due and demonstrate that you truly value your employees' time and talent.
Another way to boost morale is to create a peer-nomination recognition program. These programs enable employees to recognize those on their team who go above and beyond, providing office-wide recognition and even monetary compensation. Creating a peer-to-peer nomination system also boosts team engagement and builds a sense of support and community among employees, rather than having recognition being imposed from a top-down level.
Reducing employee stress in the workplace starts with empathy and understanding, evaluating where employees are coming from and how they’re feeling, and meeting them where they’re at. Once you have a sense of stress triggers, search for the tools and strategies to mitigate the sources of stress, create accountability, and encourage a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and support.
For more strategies to reduce stress in the workplace, explore the Conflict & Stress Management Training Materials at HRDQ!