Stress is something that is going to naturally occur in every workplace, and every employee has likely dealt with work-related stress at some point in their working life. Back in 2020, the pandemic had a huge impact on work-related stress because of how it completely affected working environments and processes that people were used to, and we can all agree that no one likes change.
No matter what your role is, whether you’re a manager, HR professional, leader or CEO, it is so important to take workplace stress seriously and not just because it’s the right thing to do for the health and wellbeing of your employees. Now more than ever you must make it your priority to help your employees manage stress levels effectively.
What are the main causes of employee stress?
Did you know that six main areas can lead to work-related stress if they are not managed properly? The HSE has defined these areas as demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.
To help put these areas into perspective, employees could become stressed at work due to their workload significantly increasing, a lack of job security or overbearing and critical managers who offer no support.
You might see it as one of the most daunting obstacles to try and overcome as there is truly no one size fits all approach for combating it. However, what we do know is that we need to take a look at our employees and the environments we create for them to ensure it meets the definition of ‘non-stressful’ for the employee. Poor environments create tension and stress, which is why we need to consider it from the employee’s perspective and not just what we think that looks like.
7 simple yet effective ways to help employees manage stress in the workplace
As we said previously, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to managing employee stress, but thankfully we can give a few broader ideas to help alleviate stress. It is then up to you to make sure you are tailoring them to your workforce and remember, the best strategies start with leadership’s example!
Working from home and flexibility with working hours
When the pandemic hit, it completely transformed how everyone was working and it has continued to change how people are working. You hired your employees because you believe they’re the best people for the jobs and that they can do them well, so let them prove it to you.
Offices can often be seen as jail cells, but it doesn’t have to be that way - let your employees know that their job is only defined by the quality and timeliness of their work, not when and where they clock in and out.
Offering flexibility with working hours and the opportunity to work from home supports those who are trying to juggle a work-life balance. Say your employee is struggling with childcare, flexible working allows them to plan around this and ultimately reduces stress. If you can, allow your employees to mix remote and office working to suit them and the business needs.
Workload? Reduce it
Did you know that more than four in ten employees have suffered from stress at some point during their career due to their workload? As an employer, it can be easy to get caught up in chasing profits but this is causing your staff to feel significant pressure due to the level of work they’re being tasked with, tight deadlines and lack of support.
We know what you’re thinking, it’s not that easy to reduce the workload as it must be done, and we get that. So, why not help your employees prioritise their workload? This can provide balance, enhance their productivity and you guessed it - reduce their stress. There are lots of great tools out there to help plan out workloads such as Trello, Asana and more. Even a simple to-do list is sufficient in helping your employees stay on track.
This also isn’t always going to be a solution to the problem, take a look at the workload of a team and decide whether or not it needs to be split more fairly, or even decide whether they need an extra pair of hands.
Employees are not robots, limits can be pushed in the workplace and it only results in them being less productive due to being overwhelmed and overworked. Other problems that come from workloads being too high are increased errors, a poor work-life balance and negatively impacting an employee's mental health.
Offer well-being benefits
If you take a look at any article on how to reduce stress, one of the most common answers is going to be exercise and healthy living. Exercise can help anyone take their mind off the stress of their job. As an employer or leader, you could encourage your employees to get out of the office during their lunch and go for walks, offer gym memberships, or hold fun challenges related to steps or distance (90km in 30 days).
Well-being benefits are now so important for employees, and it doesn’t always have to be a gym membership. You could go a step further by offering subscriptions to apps like Calm or Headspace, or train up mental health first aiders so they know there is always someone they can talk to if they are feeling work is harming their mental health.
Employees spend a lot of time together when they’re in the office, and if your team is fully remote or hybrid working, they miss out on that all-important social interaction in the workplace. Encouraging socialisation amongst employees can help reduce stress, as they will get to know their colleagues and feel more comfortable, breaking down those communication barriers. You could do this by organising a remote social where you take part in a fun activity or arrange after-work drinks once or twice a month.
You know that saying we work to live, we don’t live to work? Yeah, some of us can lose sight of that easily so encouraging socials allows time away from the desk to socialise!
Managers, leaders and HR professionals, why not introduce stress education?
We all know there are two types of stress, the good stress (or eustress) is when you feel excited, your pulse quickens and hormones surge, but without that threat or fear. Then we have bad stress, the kind of stress that leaves you worn out, decreases performance and leaves you with poor concentration. Everyone can shift the bad to good by seeing the benefits of a potential situation and leveraging strengths to help deal with it.
During your stress education session, you could provide tips on how to cope. Not everyone copes with stress in the same way, but give them the tools to help them find what works best. Showing your staff you care by supporting their well-being will help to improve morale, and increase productivity and you might just be able to reduce absenteeism due to stress.
Know the signs
When working in the field of management, whether you’re a CEO, leader or HR professional, the importance of being empathetic can often be overlooked. As a leader, you need to be aware of the signs of stress and take appropriate action to support your employees. Empathy is the first step towards creating an environment that allows stress levels to be spoken about.
Recognising your employees
There is no better feeling than being praised for a job well done and if you take the time to recognise the efforts of your employees, this can result in a boost in engagement. At Mo, we are advocates for employee recognition and how important it is. We all go into work wanting to have some sort of purpose, but if that’s not recognised then what’s the point?
Recognising your employees helps them feel happier and lets them know that their work is valuable and useful. It has a lot of benefits that you can reap if you put it into place correctly, and lowering stress can be one of them. Be loud and proud with your moments of appreciation.
If you need some help doing exactly that and want to know more about a great platform for recognition, book a demo with our team at Mo today!