Managing workplace stress

by Leon Gettler | |   Managing People
Managing workplace stress

Workplace stress hits productivity hard. How should CEO’s handle this?

Managing employee stress is becoming more critical because workplace stress is on the rise. And you can bet that as your employees return from the Christmas break, they’ll be facing the same pressures. Workplace stress hits productivity hard. How should CEOs handle this?

Burt Helm at Inc.com says managers can do things like change the way people meet. For example, they can have meetings standing up or walking. The change of scenery and fresh air will give people a new perspective. He says helping employees help each other with mentoring sessions is another good method. “Not only do they foster collaboration and bring old and young staff closer, they just get people out of their own heads,’’ Helm says. “One-on-one lunches can make collaboration more routine.” And finally, it is important to recognise achievements and acknowledge how every staff member contributed to that.

The people at Profiles International say it’s important to let employees create their own personal atmosphere with plants, family photos and other personal items. Also set up team building activities outside of work hours, like for example a cricket club, a book club or bowling team.

“By letting employees meet and socialise in settings that don't require them to work on stressful projects together, they can create trusting work relationships that will help them when it counts the most.” Always thank employees for their hard work and give them the opportunity to make decisions that will affect their job. Also, make a serious effort to look into how they experience stress and conflict. “Stress and employee conflict often arise from a misalignment of company perspectives and abilities required to perform specific job functions. One way to address this, is to use employee assessments, that can help you match employees to jobs that they are able to perform well in and identify organisational alignment issues.”

HR World suggests training overworked managers to improve their ability to delegate or guide staff or hire freelancers or staff who are qualified to absorb the managers' extra workload. It also suggest facilitating team building by setting up a reward system with, for example, certificates being handed out for jobs well done.  Humorous activities, anecdotes or even fun training materials can lighten up the job environment and add an incentive for employees to participate and learn.

HR World says it’s important to encourage healthy lifestyles. That includes purchasing equipment that will help reduce physical strain and injury. This investment pays for itself by preventing the lost productivity and worker's compensation claims that can arise in a poor work environment. Wellness programs can also improve overall employee health and cut back on stress and sick-day losses. Wellness programs might involve nutrition support, such as bringing in a nutritionist to speak with staff, sponsoring a cooking class or installing health food in vending machines. Or, they may involve a lunchtime yoga class or running group or subsidised gym memberships.

And finally, family-friendly policies can be another excellent way to increase staff retention. These might help families pay health costs, support child care, and welcome families into staff culture at employee events.

How do you manage your employees’ stress levels?