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Stress in the workplace can be hugely detrimental to businesses - in fact, it’s estimated that work-related stress accounts for over 13 million absences, and costs about £3.7 billion, every year.
Not only is stress in the workplace likely to have a negative impact on performance, but it can also have serious consequences for the health and personal life of an organisation’s employees – something that will be damaging in the long-term to both a company’s reputation and to team morale.
There are a number of common causes of stress in the workplace – including unrealistic deadlines, a lack of support, conflicts with other employees, and a poor physical environment – and surprisingly, many of these can be effectively managed, or even avoided, altogether. So, how can you manage stress at your business?
One way to manage stress in the workplace is ensuring that employees are well managed. In theory, this will mean that employees have both a clear sense of direction, and enough autonomy that they don’t feel over-managed or under too much pressure. In practice, this means setting realistic deadlines, laying out clear expectations, and scheduling regular meetings to check that workload and demands are all completely achievable. Especially in the early stages of a graduate’s career, managerial guidance and structure couldn’t be more important – so ensuring that effective leadership is in place across the business is crucial.
It’s also important for managers to lead by example – by demonstrating that they have a good work/life balance, making use of their full lunch breaks, using their full holiday allowance, and so on. By promoting a healthy work life themselves, the manager will contribute to a healthier team environment, and ultimately a more positive place to work.
Ensuring that there is a strong support system in place is a great way to manage stress in the workplace. This can mean anything from setting up mentoring schemes to allow employees to offload any tensions, to wellness initiatives like lunchtime fitness activities, socials and guided meditation, to building trust with your employees simply by being consistent, reliable, and always doing the things you say you’ll do.
If you have an HR team, quarterly catch-ups can be a good way to ensure that employees feel supported in their roles - but if you don’t, regular meetings with a manager, return to work interviews after a prolonged period of sickness, and surveys to get employee feedback on your company’s work environment can all be great ways to demonstrate your support.
Some of the main causes of stress in the workplace are conflicts at work, or an absence of relationships altogether. There is a simple way to combat these issues - team building. Fun activities outside of the workplace allow employees to see their colleagues in a completely different light - encouraging collaboration, building employee motivation and boosting team morale.
In turn, team-building can help to foster genuine relationships at work, meaning that your employees will have people to confide in during working hours – something that is highly likely to have a positive impact on the levels of stress in the workplace.
Have you ever thought about how physical work environment might affect your employees? An office that is too hot or too cold, has inadequate lighting, uncomfortable chairs or faulty equipment, is likely to have a marked impact on the mood of your employees – yet it is something that can be very easily addressed.
When an employee first joins your business, carrying out a Work Station Assessment – checking that computer screens, keyboards, mouses and environmental factors are all of an acceptable standard – will help to prevent your employees getting repetitive strain injury. For those who have been working at your company a while, start by speaking to each employee to ensure that they are comfortable and feel they have everything they need to perform their job well - and then invest in any materials, equipment or appliances they require. When more of your employees’ time is spent in the office than it is at their own homes, it’s important to make sure that each person is comfortable, happy and healthy – ultimately, this will go a long way towards boosting team morale.
Work-related stress will take a toll on productivity and performance, as well as the physical and emotional health of your employees – so knowing how to manage it is key to the success of any business.
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