Managing Workplace Stress
Workplace stress is a part and parcel of everyday work life. In fact, a controlled amount of stress helps employees to push themselves to perform better and meet deadlines. However, there is a fine line difference between motivational stress and just stress in itself. Stress is nothing but the body’s natural way of responding to any kind of demanding or difficult situation in life. Stress can be evoked either in a negative or positive manner, and both bring forth feelings of anxiety and anticipation. When there is too much of negative stress, it creates havoc on the human body. It makes the body more prone to illness, disturbs the normal sleeping patterns, and impacts both the physical as well as the mental health of individuals. A person under stress feels more irritable, tired, and depressed and all these are not the greatest of feelings to carry to the workplace.
Workplace stress is also one of the most common causes of claims pertaining to compensation in offices. It not only takes a toll on an organisation’s employees, but it also takes a toll on the company’s finances with stress-related absence and presence which may cost employers up to 10.11 billion dollars a year. Hence, it is significant to have effective stress management strategies at the workplace in order to cultivate a more positive and better workplace culture for the employees of an organisation.
Signs of Workplace Stress
Employers need to be on the lookout for the following signs of stress in its employees:
- Feel burnt out
- Decreased productivity and increased irritability
- Low employee morale or sheer disinterest in work
- Frequent mood swings, emotional responses, impatience, and frustration
- Increased number of sick leave or absenteeism
- Deteriorating relationships – both personal and work
- Substance abuse such as alcohol, tobacco and/or drugs
- Poor work quality and poor time management
- Physical reactions such as fatigue, headaches, sweating, heart palpitations, and insomnia
- Signs of silence, social withdrawal, and isolation
- Decreased level of punctuality
Ways of Managing Stress at the Workplace by Employers
One of the first ways is to understand and recognise when your employees are feeling stressed at the workplace. If you are not doing it yet, it is never too late and you can start off by scheduling regular one on one meetings with your employees to discuss their issues if any and if they need any extra support or help with anything. It is also a good idea to gauge how they are mentally placed in terms of work and life.
Some of the effective stress management techniques that employers can utilise include:
- Introducing Exercise Programs
While exercise is a powerful stress reliever, most of the times, exercise is the last thing that any employee feels like doing while at work. The body produces endorphins, which act as feel good neurotransmitters when we exercise. Endorphins are similar to morphine in a manner that they trigger a positive or happy feeling within the body and reduce the perception of pain.
Exercise if done at the workplace can help the employees to forget about any kind of workplace stress. Similarly, meditation is another way to help in clearing one’s head and enabling an individual to maintain his or her calm and stay centred.
Employers can promote weekly competitive sports events like cricket, football, or basketball. They can also offer gym memberships, salsa or any Zumba dance classes, have in-house exercise and meditation rooms in order to encourage employees to fit exercise into their daily work regime.
- Offer Additional Training Assistance
Many times an employee’s performance may contribute to stress at the workplace. For instance, if an employee feels that they are not performing as expected, it results in poor self-esteem and leads to overall dissatisfaction at the workplace. In order to address this, employers should take the help of additional training services to help such underperforming employees become experts in their selected fields.
How employees feel about themselves or their jobs, have a direct impact on their behaviour and mindset. When employers invest in upskill programs for their staff, the employees feel reassured that the organisation cares about their interests and they feel positive when they are able to upgrade their existing skills and excel at work.
- Encourage and Promote Healthy Food Choices
It is a very normal trend for people under stress to turn to comfort foods such as high-fat food items like pasta, pizza, burgers, ice cream, chocolates, etc. While initially, these food items do seem like a great option, yet it eventually leads to high cholesterol, lethargy, and high blood pressure.
Hence, employers should encourage and promote healthy food choices to its employees to beat workplace stress. They can promote this by instructing the food caterers to serve a balanced meal in the cafeteria, arrange daily or weekly fruit basket sale or arrange for fresh fruit stalls, and healthy snacking counters in the cafeteria.
When employees have access to high fibre, low-fat, and carbohydrate-rich meals with plenty of fruit and vegetables, it will help to provide them with a natural source of energy, leading them to feel better emotionally and also boost their immune system.
- Establish Clear Channels of Communication
Effective communication at the workplace helps in improving teamwork, problem-solving, decision-making, and in general, keeps the office morale high. Hence it is quite important for employers to promote and set clear channels of communication between them and the employees by being transparent, approachable, and understanding.
When employers open the lines for clear communication and listen attentively to the issues of employees, it eventually leads to reduced stress amongst the employees at the workplace and feelings of being left out and isolated. Employees feel that their concerns minimise when the employers lend an empathetic ear to their problems. As an employer, it is not just enough to listen to the problems but also look for solutions to resolve the problems in such a manner that it benefits both the parties involved.
- Promote a Healthy Work Culture
It is very important to have a great workplace culture as it makes new hires feel welcome, and the existing employees feel at home. In order to improve and promote a healthy work culture, employers may organise social events outside the office premises, organise team outings and team building activities at regular intervals, promote zero tolerance policies in terms of bullying, harassment, and discrimination and ensure that the management actions conform to the organisational values.