Workplace stress is a productivity killer. When stress is overwhelming, employees miss more days of work (either due to actual sickness or because they need a mental break). Conflict is higher, while collaboration sinks. Overall job satisfaction suffers, and if the stress is consistent, turnover skyrockets.
The opinion that “stress comes with the territory” won’t serve you well. You don’t want to lose good people because of issues you have the authority and ability to change. Taking a proactive approach to manage stress can prevent productivity and performance slips, while boosting overall employee loyalty and job satisfaction.
Sharon Schweitzer, an international business etiquette expert, bestselling author and the founder of Access to Culture, says to consider these five tips for creating a healthier office environment.
Identify the source of stress
Observe whether there are certain situations that generate stress. When do you feel most stressed? Chances are your employees are feeling it too. Survey them to discover when they feel the most pressure. Recognizing stressors is the first step toward creating a healthier work environment.
It’s tempting to complain with coworkers about how little you slept or how much you have to do. Many employees find short-term relief in ranting about their situation. While misery may love its company, commiserating won’t help solve the problem. In fact, studies show that co-rumination degrades your physical health and drains your mental energy. Encourage employees to avoid those behaviors as well. Instead of listing complaints, work together to find solutions that improve working conditions for everyone.
If you notice employees seem more anxious than usual or that the office atmosphere is charged with stress, make it a point to encourage and uplift those around you. Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word or compliment to foster positivity. Ask employees if they need help or a task or consider organizing a potluck lunch for everyone to enjoy a meal together. Simple actions like those can make a big difference in overall workplace satisfaction.
Address the issue
If there’s a specific situation in the office that’s contributing to stress, such as tension between coworkers or approaching deadlines, bring the issue out into the open. Explain the problem in neutral terms, without accusation or complaints, and offer solutions that would resolve the issue without compromising project timelines or the office dynamic. Being proactive is critical if you want to prevent small issues from becoming big problems.
Keep it in perspective
Of course, you want to give every project 100 percent, but consider the physical and emotional impact of pulling several all-nighters per week or neglecting your health. Remember to ask for help when necessary, discuss your concerns with employees, and keep a healthy perspective about the long-term effects of your actions.