Take a hard look at your company. Do you ask people to go above and beyond without rewarding them or showing appreciation? Are your facilities dangerous or depressing? Is your management team a cohesive unit who sets clear expectations and understands how to give constructive criticism? Have you created a system that has employees stabbing each other in the back for raises, promotions, and credit for accomplishments? Do you make your employees feel valued and appreciated? If any of these questions are setting off alarm bells for you, there is a strong chance that a portion of your employees are in the 40% of workers that describe their job as “very or extremely stressful.”
Stress manifests itself in three different ways:
- Body-headache, fatigue, muscle tension/pain, chest pain, illness, fatigue, sleep issues and stomach issues.
- Mood-anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability, sadness/depression.
- Behavior-overeating/under eating, angry outbursts, drug/alcohol abuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal.
All of these issues have the potential to affect performances and relationships at work. Stress in the workplace can come from a variety of areas. Poor working conditions; excessive workload; conflicting expectations; management style; poor or overly competitive social environment; and job security concerns are all factors that can lead to employees being overwhelmed and stressed out.
Addressing possible stressors in your workplace is important not just for the employees, but also for the financial wellbeing of the company. Workers compensation claims are regularly filed for emotional disorders and disability due to job related stress. Also, easing stress will help to avoid missed work due to mental strain and physical illness. To avoid these claims, it is wise to look into any areas that are causing problems with your employees.
To avoid everyday stress for your employees, create a positive environment that eases anxiety instead of creating it. Look at the following ideas to help de-stress your staff:
- Give employees a feeling of control and avoid micromanaging.
- Get feedback whenever possible for scheduling and hours.
- Open the lines of communication in your office. Invite employees to speak to upper management when something concerns them, or when they are feeling stress.
- Provide a place, such as a break room, that employees want to use to decompress. Making it comfortable and welcoming will encourage eating and taking breaks away from their desk.
- Work to ensure that your employees feel valued. Small rewards, privileges, and treats go a long way to showing employees they are appreciated.
- Provide adequate and accessible vacation time. Employees must have time to get away from work and completely de-stress. It is imperative that your company policy allows them to do so.
Don’t let stress run your company. Employees that feel appreciated and valued will improve your company’s productivity, morale, and unity. The poet Ovid said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Two thousand years later, this lesson is more important now than ever before. The World Health Organization recently released a statement indicating that stress is currently considered a worldwide epidemic. Unfortunately, a great deal of it starts where we spend the largest portion of our waking hours: the workplace. Employers today must be sensitive to the problems that work stress has on their employees and work to prevent it whenever possible.
Sauter, Steven et al. (1999). Stress…at Work
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication number 99-101
. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 11, 2012. From