Northwest Plastics is ISO 9001:2008 Certified, and part of that process means we recognize our responsibility to our dedicated workers. We work hard to provide a safe, happy work environment for our staff, and because of that, we know employee stress is a serious problem in the modern business environment, and to be avoided if at all possible. Many of today’s workers feel they are under constant, unrelenting pressure; this feeling has numerous adverse effects. Over-stressed workers are less motivated, more likely to quit, less healthy, more likely to make mistakes, and overall less productive. Clearly, excess employee stress is an issue managers can’t afford to ignore.
Luckily, there are many valuable steps employers can take to address the problem. Described below are six of the best methods for reducing worker stress levels. Using these methods can help both company and employee.
1. Allow for time off. Some managers become obsessed with maximizing productivity, and so demand that their employees work long hours, come in on weekends, and forego vacations. However, such practices will ultimately backfire. The better, more ethical approach is to let employees have a real life outside of the office, which will allow workers to remain industrious, happy, and motivated.
2. Show appreciation. Responsibilities, deadlines, and difficult tasks are all major sources of stress — especially if employees are never rewarded for their efforts. While workers are compensated monetarily, it’s just as important for employees to know their efforts are valued by their superiors. Awards, honors, and also simple verbal praise play a critical part in keeping employees happy, relaxed, and positively energized.
3. Encourage a friendly atmosphere. Some competition between employees — for promotions, raises, and plum assignments — is natural, and can even be a positive force. However, too much intra-office conflict will precipitate a climate of paranoia, fear, and mistrust. Managers must encourage subordinates to work together as a team and to treat each other with kindness and respect. For example, office social activities can be a good way to promote a sense of cohesion and togetherness.
4. Provide a positive example. The tone for any team must be set at the top. If a group’s manager cannot handle stress, the entire office will struggle similarly. Managers should strive to remain calm and relaxed. They should take on only as much as they can handle, and know when to delegate and when to take a break. Follow these steps, and the whole team will be better equipped to handle stress.
5. Give clear directions. Some of the biggest sources of workplace stress are vague and confusing expectations. An employee who isn’t sure what their boss wants from them will feel tense, worried, and anxious. A manager who is a strong, effective communicator makes things better for the entire office. Employees who know exactly what they should be doing with their time will be focused, worry-free, and productive. Bosses must pay close attention to their employees, so that they can step in and help if a subordinate is lost or confused.
6. Promote a healthy lifestyle. Experts agree that one of the keys to handling stress situations is good mental and physical health. As such, business leaders should encourage their workers to eat well and get enough exercise. Mental wellness must also be promoted. For example, instituting an office-wide stress management program could benefit everyone, as well as the company bottom line.
Admittedly, stress cannot be completely conquered. Some, limited levels of stress can even be a good thing, since a little pressure can be a powerful motivator. However, extremely anxious and unhappy employees do not make for a successful and productive team. Any boss who sees subordinates struggling with excess stress would be well advised to follow the six helpful tips described above.