Stress at the workplace spreads like the common cold in a closed space. Once a person contracts it, it’s sure to pass on the next person, creating a deadly chain.
In a recent study, it was found out that despite growing awareness about work-induced stress and its harmful effects, more than 50% of the global workforce is heading towards a major burnout.
And, as a boss, if you think managing the stress of your employees, isn’t part of your duties, then you’re wrong! Take a look at the few consequences that affect you and your business big time, when your employees aren’t happy.
- Poor customer service leading to loss of clients
- People reporting in sick often, thereby missing critical deadlines
- Employees take extended breaks during company hours sneakily
- Poor focus leading to reduction in productivity
- Outbursts that spoil the harmony and relationship among your workers
- Increased resignations and poor employee retention rates
So, what can you do to combat workplace stress and improve productivity?
Begin by addressing the elephant in the room. Instead of just ignoring the issue and hoping that it goes away, tackle the problem head-on. Make use of any of these stress busters to reduce the impact of stress in your workplace and to boost energy levels, thereby improving productivity levels.
- Implement Flexible Scheduling
One of the significant factors that contribute to workplace stress is “Poor Work-life balance.” Instead of fixing a rigid 9 to 5 shift, be a little more flexible when it comes to scheduling the work time of employees.
A worker who drops kids at school at 8 am and wants to begin work at 8.15? Sure, allow it. Another worker who feels better burning the midnight oil? Be ready to accommodate it.
As long as the tasks you have allotted gets done on time and meets the expected levels, you needn’t worry about the work timings of employees.
- Implement an open door policy
Most employees aren’t stressed by the amount or complexity of the work that they have to handle. On the other hand, they are stressed due to lack of proper communication between the members of their team.
Implement a company-wide open door policy. Encourage your employees to feel free to approach their team leaders with any questions or doubts. This is an efficient way to vent out frustrations and even ensures that the entire team is on the same page.
Additionally, an open-door policy helps you create a “Judgement Free Zone.” This improves the quality of work drastically.
- Stress on Meaningful Meetings
There’s nothing as stressful as being called for a meeting when you’re in the midst of some important work. Instead of announcing impromptu meetings, give your employees a weekly schedule of meetings. This helps them to organise their work and time better.
Also, avoid meeting just for the sake of it. If you can address the contents of a meeting in an email, then do so, instead of wasting precious office hours.
- Be Clear of Outcomes
While most employees know their designation, not many are aware of what needs to be done to fulfill their role in the company. Make sure that you are clear about the duties you expect of each employee.
Leave the how, when and why to the employees. Also, make sure that employees don’t stress out over duties that aren’t relevant to them.
- Make Technology your Friend
While the internet is a big time-sucker in the office, there’s no denying the valuable role of technology. When used right, technology can help you big time in reducing workplace stress. Ensure that you equip your office with the right technology to improve productivity and to reduce the time taken for a job.
- Bright Aesthetics
While this may seem like a minor thing, it in fact has a major impact. The way you decorate or design your office space impacts employee stress levels. Try to create a bright zone with plenty of natural light. Opt for bright, cheery colours.
You can also provide employees with the freedom to decorate or even paint their cubicles according to their preferences. Remember that the more personalised the workspace is, the better is the comfort levels of your employees.
People are likely to work better in a place where they feel at home, rather than one which is sterile and hostile.
- Organise Small Walking Trips
It’s a well-known fact that “Exercise banishes stress.” Organise walking trips for groups of employees to burn off stress. Divide your entire staff into small groups of five to ten and fix a particular time slot for them.
For instance, if a group takes a stroll before lunch, another team can walk around the block during the afternoon slump. This is an excellent way to make employees feel energised throughout the day. Additionally, walking also boosts the feel-good hormone which effectively reduces stress.
- Try making your Office Zone a Caffeine-free Space
Caffeine triggers anxiety disorders. While it gives the false illusion of increased energy, what it actually does is increase stress levels. While a cup or two for the day doesn’t affect much, anything beyond it has disastrous effects.
Try replacing the coffee machine in your office with healthier drinks like green tea or even smoothies.
- Organise Weekly Stress Busting Activities
These activities not only help in reducing stress but also improve the camaraderie among your employees. Let the team-spirit develop by organising regular stress-relief activities. It can be something as simple as scattering adult colouring books around the office or holding regular instructor-led yoga sessions. Suggest a few events to your staff and pick the one that is preferred by the majority. Alternatively, you can rotate the activities to avoid boredom.
- Encourage employees to Plug Off
Studies indicate that a majority of workplace stress is as a result of the digital communication channels we use. Even when a person wants to focus on a particular task, he/she is constantly bombarded with notifications from a million channels.
Try to improve concentration levels by designating “Unplugged Hour.” For instance, you can announce the time right after lunch, from 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm as “Unplugged Hour.”
During this time, employees can work on their core tasks sans any distractions. Make it a point to avoid all intra-office communications during this period.
Above all, Don’t Micro-Manage
As Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do for each menial task.” Avoid interjecting in each and everything. Ensure that work gets done to your expectation levels. Don’t be worried much on the path taken to complete the job.
Your employees are the biggest asset for your business. Ensure that they are happy. Make sure that the person you choose is a good fit for the role. This reduces workplace stress by half.
“Remember that happy employees create a happy office, which ensures that you as a Business Owner are happy.”