Modern life is undeniably stressful – our lives are fast-paced and high-pressure with little time to relax, so it should come as no surprise that the workplace is a huge cause of stress for millions of us. Stress can impact job performance, decrease productivity and increase absences. In fact, last year it accounted for 45% of all working days lost due to ill health. Although there’s no such thing as a stress-free job, it shouldn’t be accepted as the norm that employees should burn out. Here are our top tips on taking the pressure off your workforce in time for International Stress Awareness Day:
1. Set an example
Employees look to their managers for guidance, so be aware of the signals that you’re sending out. If you are working late every night, skipping your lunch hour and emanating stress and anxiety, you are normalising that kind of behaviour and setting a precedent for your employees. Start practising what you preach and go for a walk at lunchtime, take some time out and try to hold back some of the negativity that could rub off on others.
2. Set up a workplace wellness scheme
You may be sick of hearing it, but a healthy lifestyle and getting enough exercise can be hugely beneficial when it comes to combatting stress. Exercise reduces fatigue and improves concentration, so start encouraging your employees to get moving. No one is functioning at their best after sitting at a desk for eight hours, so finding ways to avoid this will help them re-focus. From arranging a discount at a local gym to setting up a running club after work, exercise will help your employees unwind.
3. Be more flexible
Allowing your employees more control of their working hours, or giving the option of working from home if necessary can greatly improve their wellbeing. Knowing that they have a bit more flexibility to fit their working hours around their lives if necessary can bring them peace of mind and make them feel more trusted and supported at work.
4. Be realistic
There are only so many hours in a day, so be mindful of how much you are expecting your employees to take on. Many of us are eager to please and unwilling to admit that we might struggle to do something, but this only leads to an unmanageable workload. If an employee says they don’t have time to complete a task you are delegating to them, don’t berate them for it – leave them to concentrate on the jobs they have in hand so that they can focus on doing them to the best of their ability. If they do have the capacity to take on the work, make sure that they are fully prepared and have everything they need to complete the task – it’ll save a lot of stress further down the line.
Being kept in the dark about workplace changes can bring stress and anxiety to employees, so make sure to keep your team in the loop about any changes or developments that might affect them. Being open with your employees will also encourage them to communicate openly in return and express their feelings – sometimes even just sharing their worries can be enough to reduce stress levels, and the resulting trust can strengthen working relationships and contribute to a more positive work environment.
Encourage team socialising
When you’re working with the same group of people for eight hours a day, five days a week, you want to know that everyone can get along and support one another. Although your employees don’t need to be the best of friends, if the barriers are broken down it makes it easier for them to bond and build strong, reliable relationships. Arranging lunches, nights out and team away days will boost morale and get everybody closer.