Many individuals feel at least a moderate level of stress while at work, and some feel overwhelming levels of tension and anxiety in the workplace that actually affect their health and their ability to focus on their tasks. As a business owner, it is important to understand how stress can negatively affect your business’s overall level of success. By doing so, you may determine that you need to actively look for signs of stress in your employees and actively foster a less stressful work environment.
How Does Stress Affect the Workplace
Stress may affect your business in many ways that you have not yet considered. This is one of the top leading causes of employee absence as well as a common reason for a low productivity rating. You rely on your employees to show up each day to complete critical tasks, and you also need them to feel happy, motivated and energetic toward their tasks.
In extreme cases, a high-stress environment or position can lead to a high turnover rate in your workplace. This can result in your business having to spend more time locating and training new employees, and you may also have productivity issues related to being insufficiently manned. Ultimately, issues related to turnover and absence can affect your ability to serve your customers well and in a cost-effective way. In some cases, such as if an employer is directly causing high stress levels, you may even be taken to court by your employees and held financially liable for medical expenses and more.
What Causes Stress and How to Recognize It
Clearly, you need to take control over how stressful your work environment is. To get started, you should understand the primary causes of stress and recognize signs of these issues in your workplace. Stress in the workplace is often caused by employees feeling as though the demands placed on them are too significant or that they are not properly trained to handle the tasks.
Some employees may feel stressed by your specific management style, by inconsistencies in the structure of the organization or about feeling unempowered to complete their required tasks. You may notice signs of stress in some of your employees, such as a change in their mood, concentration level or overall performance. Some individuals may call in sick frequently are start coming into the office later than normal.
Others may begin to work more hours than usual if they feel they have too much work to do, or they may begin to bicker with co-workers or managers more frequently because of a shorter temper brought on by high stress levels. In extreme cases, you may notice physical signs of stress in some employees, such as fatigue, complaints about headaches or nausea, shaking and more.
What Employers Can Do to Manage Stress
Now that you know more about the effects of stressed out employees and you have spotted the signs of high stress levels, you may be ready to take action. The ability to reduce stress in the workplace is critical to the overall success level of your business. There are a few steps that you can take to accomplish this goal.
- Communicate and Acknowledge Stress: Setting up formal training sessions regarding stress can be effective. During these sessions, you can create an open environment to discuss stressors openly. You can also explore ways to decrease stress in the workplace and to help your employees unwind when they are away from the office.
- Reduce Demands at Work: Incredible demands placed on employees can easily be a source of stress, so always set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-limited. You should also set reasonable work hours for your employees, and avoid assigning tasks that require them to work over-time. You should also have an accepting attitude toward requests for breaks and days off.
- Be Flexible: Working remotely is a great option to consider when you want to reduce stress levels at work. Employees who work remotely have greater flexibility to handle personal and work responsibilities in a more convenient way. Telecommuting has been shown to reduce stress levels and to increase productivity, and you may consider allowing telecommuting on at least a part-time basis to all employees on a regular basis.
- Improve Your Management Style: Your managerial efforts can play a key role in the stress your employees feel. For example, when you communicate effectively, your employees may understand their tasks better. Regular employee reviews can keep your team focused and motivated. You also should adjust your managerial style to regularly identify high stress levels in your team.
- Promote a Healthy Lifestyle: The overall health of your team can also affect stress levels. Consider providing a discounted gym membership as a perk or benefit to encourage your team to be active and healthy. Create a healthy eating program or contest to focus their attention on their diet. You can also create a quiet space in your office where your team can go to relax when they feel overwhelmed by stress.
While stress is a common problem that affects many businesses and their employees, you can see that there are rather simple solutions available to help you combat the problem in your workplace. Now is a great time to begin looking for stressors in your workplace and making effective changes.