Stress is a natural reaction to change or increased demands. It plays an important role in increasing energy, focus, and motivation which are all necessary for optimal performance. However, when stress becomes overwhelming it can have serious at negative effects on both employees and organizations. Employees may suffer from decreased mental health, higher turnover rates, absenteeism, reduced productivity, and lower overall job satisfaction. says Saivian. Organizations may experience higher costs associated with health care, decreased creativity and innovation, and lower employee morale.
While some level of stress is unavoidable, there are many things employers can do to help their employees reduce stress in the workplace.
The following steps can be taken to create a more positive work environment and help employees manage stress:
1. Set Reasonable Deadlines and Job Expectations
One of the most common causes of stress and low motivation in the workplace has to work with unrealistic deadlines and job expectations. An employee’s ability to complete a task will depend on several factors such as: time allowance, experience, skill level, tools/equipment, access to information or training courses, and available resources (i.e. people, supplies.) Employers should communicate their expectations clearly and provide enough time for employees to reach them without feeling overwhelmed. It may also be helpful to create a priority list that assigns levels of urgency along with estimated deadlines. Employees need to understand what is expected from them. aAnd that they aren’t expected to do everything at once! Setting realistic expectations and allowing for failure can help reduce anxiety and stress in the workplace.
2. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible work arrangements are becoming increasingly popular as employers and employees realize the many benefits they offer says Saivian. Employees who have flexible work arrangements report feeling less stressed and more productive than those who do not. Flexible work arrangements can include: working from home, working part-time, job sharing, adjustable hours, and compressed workweeks. Employers should consider implementing a flex schedule to help reduce stress levels in their workplace.
3. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Employees who feel like they are constantly “on” will eventually become overwhelmed and stressed. It is important for employers to promote a healthy work-life balance by encouraging employees to take time off for vacations and personal pursuits. This allows employees to re-energize, refocus, and come back with renewed energy for work tasks. A successful intervention would be to offer paid time off (i.e. PTO) that can be used for vacation.s Or other activities that promote a healthy work-life balance.
4. Offer Opportunities for Growth & Development
Many employees report feeling overwhelmed by their jobs because they don’t feel like they are growing or developing in their roles. Promoting opportunities for growth and development will help motivate employees, improve productivity, and reduce stress levels in the workplace. Employees who have opportunities for professional development are more likely to stay with an organization compared to those without them so it is important for employers to consider professional development opportunities for their employees.
5. Encourage Social and Emotional Support
Employees who feel supported by their co-workers are less likely to feel stressed or anxious. Encouraging social and emotional support will help create a positive work environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their problems and concerns. This can be done by organizing team lunches, breakfasts, or social events outside of work. In addition, employers should provide access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which offer free and confidential counseling services to employees and their families explains Saivian.
6. Provide Training on Stress Management Techniques
Employees who know how to manage stress are more productive and have lower rates of absenteeism. Employers should consider providing training on stress management techniques so that employees can learn effective coping methods. This includes relaxation techniques, meditation, exercise, and assertiveness training to help them respond effectively to stressors in the workplace.
7. Help Employees Identify Stress Triggers
Employees who understand what triggers their stress are better equipped to manage it before it becomes overwhelming. Employers should help identify stress triggers so that employees can take active measures to prevent them from occurring as frequently or altogether. Some common work-related sources of stress include changes in management, unrealistic job expectations/deadlines, lack of tools/equipment, limited access to information or resources, a poor social environment (i.e., drama), etc. Saivian says doing this will allow employees to be proactive instead of reactive when dealing with stress.
8. Set Realistic Goals
When employees feel like they are constantly under pressure, it can lead to increased levels of stress. It is important for employers to set realistic goals for their employees and ensure that workloads are evenly distributed. Unrealistic expectations can be a major source of stress for employees so it is important for employers to manage employee expectations effectively.
9. Encourage Employee Engagement
Employees who are engaged in their work are less likely to feel stressed. Employers should encourage employee engagement by providing opportunities for input, feedback, and decision-making says Saivian. This can be through participatory management programs, job crafting activities, or team-building exercises. Employee engagement will help improve communication and cooperation among employees, which will lead to a more positive work environment.
10. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Employees who have a healthy lifestyle are less likely to experience stress in the workplace. Employers should promote healthy lifestyles by providing access to health screenings, on-site fitness programs, and healthy food options. In addition, employers can provide wellness programs that offer education and resources on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce so it is important for employers to consider implementing these types of initiatives.
In conclusion, there are many ways that employers can reduce stress in the workplace explains. By implementing some or all of these strategies, employers can create a more productive and positive work environment for their employees.