Six Tips to Ease Workplace Stress
As a catalyst for employee health problems, lost productivity, absenteeism, burnout, resignations and workplace accidents, stress is hard to match. Here’s a quick look at the causes of workplace stress and six simple strategies to manage the problem.
What’s causing the stress?
A report from Healthcare Advocates (1) explains the causes of stress: “On-the-job stressors range from unclear job expectations and time pressures to noisy work stations. A significant factor is lack of accommodation for work/life balance which can add to the stress load”.
Insights from the ADP Research Institute® Evolution of Work (2) report add additional context to our understanding of workplace stress. For example, both Millennial employees and Career Knowledge Workers (employees with 5 to 15 years of workplace experience) feel negatively about certain trends, such as organisations hiring more contract workers instead of full-time employees (50% of Millennials and 57% of Career Knowledge Workers) and the growth of automation to replace people doing repetitive tasks (57% and 51% respectively).
The ADP study also found that a significant percentage of Career Knowledge Workers (48%) felt negatively about changes in the retirement age, as well as the fast pace of change in today’s business world and the associated burdens placed upon employees to shift roles and learn new skills quickly (40%). With these stressors sure to continue, employee learning programs should be a big part of your efforts to attack workplace stress.
Six Simple Strategies to Ease the Tension
- Understand the impact.Analyse your absenteeism, turnover, employee health indicators, number of employee complaints, trends in your productivity – and the results of your employee satisfaction surveys. An aggregation of employee-related data (3), will give you a sense of the scope and cost of your organisation’s stress challenge so that you can take appropriate action where it’s most needed.
- Leverage technology to remove administrative burdens. Some operational tasks are detailed as well as time consuming – and even a small error can be disastrous for your business. For example, payroll processing can cause significant stress, especially if you’re juggling other demanding tasks. Outsourcing these types of processing functions frees your team to refocus their energy and make valuable contributions in other areas.
- Get the basics rights.Strategies for coping with stress need not be complicated. Also clear communication to clarify (and possibly recalibrate) employee roles and expectations, as well as reinforcing organisational mission can be a very effective weapon to decrease stress.
- Address work-life balance concerns.Develop strategies to address this stressor by enabling greater workplace flexibility in the form of remote working, flexible schedules, support for parenting/eldercare and flexible benefit offerings.
- Evaluate the office environment.As an article inThe Guardian (4) relates, “making an office work for your employees isn’t rocket science — natural light, well-monitored temperature, good facilities — even the smallest changes show you value your people and their wellbeing. This will be mirrored in how they feel about their job”.
- Foster mindfulness.Some businesses have developed employee learning programs to foster quiet reflection/meditation or mindfulness to manage stress. Organisations such as General Motors, Google and Proctor & Gamble have found value in these efforts, according to an article onAlternet (5).
Fighting workplace stress is an on-going battle. By adopting these six strategies and monitoring the drivers and the costs of workplace stress, you’ll become aware of the success of your efforts – and be better equipped to weed out stress across your organisation.
For more information on the changing nature of the global workplace, download the report: Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace (6)
Written by: Chuck Leddy