Workplace stress is common, but still has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of American adults. High levels of job stress accompany a feeling of having little-to-no control over a situation, but at the same time being weighed down by increasing demands on time and attention. Stress is known to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other health concerns and disorders. In fact, job stress is noted to carry a high price tag ($300 billion annually) for employers as a result of accidents, absenteeism, employee turnover, loss of productivity, workers’ compensation claims, and medical, legal, and insurance costs.
Here are a few things that you can do to help your most stressed out team members keep their cool.
Seek First to Listen
Probably the worst thing you can do is to actually tell an employee to “calm down.” No one wants to hear that their concerns are not worthy of attention. Rather, you should take the time to actually listen to your employees and look to understand where their high stress levels are coming from. It could be workload, issues with co-workers, lack of job security, and juggling work and personal lives. If an employee comes to you for help, now is really not the time to beat them down even further. Stress has a very real influence on quality of life, and your staff members deserve the same attention to their concerns as you would appreciate.
Help Identify and Address the Issue
Great managers are also great mentors. While it is not your responsibility to eliminate all sources of workplace stress, it is a sign of leadership to be able to help an employee identify and address key issues of concern. Show your team that you want to help them solve problems as they are related to the workplace. The simple show of support can be enough to reduce stress in an individual, if only because they no longer feel that they are dealing with an issue alone. Having an effective support network is a very powerful de-stressor. Of course, stress is a very personal phenomenon and will vary widely across your team members. Working with your employees to define their stress threshold and identify their boundaries will help them see workplace stress as a manageable condition, one which they can feel empowered to address on their own, as well as with your support.
Potential Solutions that You Can Facilitate
As a manager, there are a number of tools at your disposal to help relieve the tension. Would a different schedule make a difference for your employee? Perhaps consider allowing them to work on a more flexible time frame with earlier or later start hours to reduce their commute time. How positive is the corporate culture and work environment that you have created? Would your team benefit from some outside morale-boosting events or team building exercise? Is a lack of transparency adding to your employees’ stress level? These are just a few examples of actions you can take to create a more positive and stress-free workplace for your employees.
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