What Causes Stress at Work?
From communication to culture, stress can come at employees from many angles. Anticipate the following common sources of stress so that you can work to improve them:
Unreasonable Deadlines: One of the leading sources of stress is unreasonable deadlines. Sure, deadlines are a necessary tool to keep teams on track. But often they’re set without much consideration of bandwidth. Employees usually have more than one deadline and this sort of environment makes it difficult to prioritize or effectively focus on any one project. To improve, ask for your employees’ input when setting deadlines, and be sure you are aware of everything they are currently scoped to manage.
Short Staffing: Increased Workload + Decreased Capacity = Stressful Workplace. It’s no-brainer math! Be mindful of employee capacity, especially when your workforce is understaffed. If you are currently working to fill lost positions, consider reminding your employees that the crunch is only temporary. Offer special benefits like free lunches or happy hours that can help alleviate some of the stress as well and let your employees know that you’re thinking of them.
Inequitable Compensation: Feeling undervalued and overworked creates a huge amount of tension and stress for employees. Ensure your organization has a clear process for promotions and raises, so that employees can know what to work toward.
Tone Set by Management: Leadership sets the tone for an organization. If the message is always missing goals, falling behind, or urgently needing to work harder, the workplace culture becomes harsh, uncompromising and inconsiderate.
Confusion About Expectations: Projects get chaotic and stressful when people don’t have a clear sense of purpose and roles. Make sure project goals are defined from the outset and that every team member clearly understands their role as it relates to the big picture.
Stress Management Strategies
Take steps to empower employees to navigate stress in healthy, more productive ways. Here are some ideas:
Provide stress management outlets to employees. Do you have space for a quiet meditation room? Lunchtime yoga? Offering these sorts of benefits shows you care about your employees and sets a tone of understanding and wellbeing.
Get it in Writing
Does your organization have policies that formalize mental health days, flexible working arrangements or built-in break times during the work day? Devise and encourage empathetic policies that give employees power and permission to pause and nurture their mental health and wellbeing.
Take time to solicit feedback on your workforce regularly. How are people feeling about workload, expectations, deadlines, compensation and overall culture? Keeping a regular pulse on this information helps you understand where to adjust, how to empower employees, when to hire more people, etc.
Encourage Individual Action
Individual action could include taking walks over lunch, designing soothing work areas, journaling, or making gratitude lists. These sorts of practices help employees process their stress and step away from it for a while. Encourage employees to take individual action and empower them with the tools to do so.
HRDQ-U workplace stress management events give your organization and employees the tools needed for alleviating and managing stress. A stress-free workspace can do wonders for improved productivity and employee morale.