High stress levels in the workplace can lead to employee health problems, loss of productivity (or employees for that matter) bullying, and even violence.
A work stress survey found that 83 percent of Americans are stressed by at least one thing at work. Low pay, an unreasonable workload, annoying co-workers, and commuting are among the top stressors.
As managers and HR professionals, it is our responsibility to work together and do what we can to minimize and mitigate employee stress whenever possible.
Although this is easier said than done, there are steps we can take.
Regularly talk about workplace stress
One of the easiest things we can do to combat stress in the office is to talk frequently about it.
We should ensure our employees know how to detect job stress—signs may include irritability, poor sleep, aggression, changes in appetite, and a loss of job satisfaction—and who to reach out to if they need help.
At a minimum, information about workplace stress should be communicated in a team meeting setting a few times a year. It’s also a good idea to ask employees during one-on-one meetings how their stress level is and if we can do anything to help them.
Offer training and development opportunities
Sad but true, a recent survey by APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence reported that only 36 percent of employees felt their organizations provided sufficient resources to help them manage stress.
To help employees reduce stress, we should offer a variety of training programs and resources. Here are a few examples:
|I want to help my employees…||Suggested solution|
|Prepare for a raise or promotion||Professional development workshop; stretch assignment|
|Feel more prepared to tackle work||Time management and prioritization workshop|
|Improve employee relations||Team-building/emotional intelligence workshop|
|Cope with stress||Stress management program|
For the employees stressed about low wages and their commute, you may be able to lighten their concerns by offering better benefits, perks, and discounts.
A few suggestions to consider include:
- Adopt a work-from-home policy
- Provide discounted public transit cards
- Link performance to financial incentives
- Start an employee assistance program (EAP)
- Provide free or discounted gym memberships
Offering employees a reasonable amount of paid time off (and more importantly, encouraging them to use it) is another great way we can help ease employee stress.
Be good to ourselves
To be successful in our fight against workplace stress, we need to practice what we preach. This means eating and sleeping well, not agreeing to take on too much, creating healthy work-life barriers, and getting the support we need with our work and stressors.
Being a good role model to our employees will help build their trust and will show them it’s possible to be healthy, balanced and happy in the workplace.
Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.