According to a 2000 Integra survey, 65% of employees reported that stress in the workplace has caused difficulties, and more than 10% described these as having major effects on them personally. So how can you make your office and your employees aware of stressors in the workplace and how to handle them?
Start with education. Empower your employees to be aware of what struggling with severe stress looks like, because it's not always obvious. Common types of stress can turn a productive and happy worker into a fatigued, distracted, irritated, or removed worker. You don't have to be a doctor to check in with an employee and make sure that everything is going okay!
What example are you setting for your employees?
Young employees in particular look to their bosses for guidance of how to be and act at work. So, if you're the kind of boss who gets into the office at the break of dawn and leaves late at night, then your younger employees are likely to feel pressured to do the same as you. Even if those are the hours you keep when working on a project, or you're just extra passionate, but you need to think about the unconscious expectations you're setting for your team.
Employees keeping long hours, especially younger professionals, can contribute to stress at work and at home. We can't emphasize this enough — a company (and, more importantly, a boss) that exhibits a healthy work-life balance will attract and retain and the best talent.
Are you available?
Checking in with your team members during one-on-ones is a perfect time to clear the air on anything that may be adding to abnormal amounts of stress. Make sure you're giving your employees enough time to talk about non-work issues, concerns, or events. If your team feels like they can only talk to you or someone in the company about work, then they can feel even more stressed without having an outlet.
Make sure you're asking the right questions during these one-on-ones. Talking about stressful or uncomfortable things isn't easy to do, even with people you know well, so prepare for a meeting with a couple of starter questions:
- "How's your workflow been?"
- "Are you comfortable with the amount of work you're currently handling?"
- "How have you been with managing your time?"
Questions like these will help open an honest conversation and allow you and your employee to gauge how they're currently performing. Maybe it can create an opportunity for a team project, allowing people with more busy schedules to have some more free time for other things.
What's the plan, ma'am?
Uncertainty in the workplace can be a slippery slope towards stress. Setting and maintaining clear goals will help your employees stay organized, efficient, and zen. Does each employee have a clear job description that contributes to the company's mission and overall goal? Provide guidelines, but allow room for changes. Make sure the job description provides the employee with a chance to grow and be rewarded.
Job security does contribute to stress in and out of the workplace, but you can squash that by helping your employees plan out their careers. Nothing is ever set in stone, nor should there be a rigid structure to rising up the ladder, but your hires should feel confident with their possibilities at your company. Not only should employees be excited about their opportunities for growth while under your employment, but also for themselves in the future. It's unrealistic to think that every person will stay with you until their retirement, so think about how you can positively impact them professionally. Word of mouth is huge, so invest in your people.
Does this really work?
Wellness programs started being incorporated into the workplace to help lower healthcare costs initially, but are starting to double as productivity boosters, too. Having your employees feel supported and appreciated gets your team excited to come to work and motivated to improve themselves, the team, and the business. Wouldn't you want healthier, happier workers?