Excessive employee stress can be the downfall of a company’s productivity. Luckily, it’s a common problem that’s easily remedied.
Reliable, productive employees are the backbone of any business. When employees are stressed out, they aren’t as productive as they could be, and that has a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. Although some workplace stress is unavoidable, too much stress can have dire effects on your team’s morale and ability to focus.
According to research published in the Harvard Gazette, as many as 36 per cent of employees in the US suffer from stress at work, and it costs US employers USD 30 billion in missed workdays every year.
Keeping your employees happy reduces employee turnover, cuts down on absenteeism, and fosters productivity. So as a business owner or manager, it’s in your best interest to find ways to reduce employee stress.
In this article, we’ll dive into the causes of employee stress, how it affects your team, and what you can do to reduce it and boost productivity at the same time.
Causes of Employee Stress
The American Psychological Association reports that 60 per cent of Americans consider their job to be a major source of stress – even more so than family responsibilities, the economy, or personal health. Clearly, work-related stress is a major issue for many employees. Understanding the causes of workplace stress may help employers understand how to reduce it.
On the job, stress can come from a multitude of issues. Here are some of the most common:
Management style: Poor communication between management and staff is a leading contributor to workplace stress. When employees feel excluded from the decision-making process, they don’t feel like part of a team. A lack of family-friendly management policies can also be detrimental to employees’ work-life balance.
Job responsibilities: Most employees appreciate challenging work environments that allow them to use their skills. However, long hours and shifts, infrequent breaks, unnecessary busywork, and excessively heavy workloads are major contributors to workplace stress.
Low workplace morale: Low workplace morale is very discouraging for employees. They become complacent and their productivity and focus suffer. Subpar work environments not only lower morale but can also lead to physical stress and injury as well.
Symptoms of Workplace Stress
Chronic workplace stress can have far-reaching detrimental effects on your employees’ mental and physical health. Stress triggers the brain to release a stress hormone, called cortisol, which puts the nervous system into overdrive and triggers an increased pulse, muscle tension, faster breathing, and other symptoms related to the body’s fight or flight response.
Over time, if the stress triggers aren’t resolved, chronic stress leads to fatigue and a weakened immune system. Many people also experience insomnia, digestive issues, headaches, depression, irritability, and more.
All of this leads to reduced productivity, a higher risk of costly on the job injuries, and illness-related call outs. In fact, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that health care costs are as much as 50 percent higher for employees who deal with high levels of chronic on job stress.
5 Ways to Reduce Employee Stress and Boost Productivity
So, how can you cut employee stress, reduce all those negative consequences, and boost productivity at the same time? You’ve got to address the problem proactively and make positive changes. Here are five workplace stress busters that any business can implement.
1. Improve Communication Between Management and Staff
Much of employees’ workplace stress comes from management. Negative relationships between employer and employee can lead to anxiety, irritability, high blood pressure, and sleep issues for both parties.
The good news is, encouraging open communication between management and staff is a great way to foster positive relationships. Leadership development classes for managers will give them the tools they need to work with employees in a more constructive and positive way.
You might also consider offering additional training for management and staff in subjects like conflict management, how to give and receive constructive feedback, and regulating emotions. This type of instruction helps both parties communicate better and makes them more aware of stress levels and triggers.
The more self-aware team members are, the better their communication with each other will be. And, the better equipped they will all be to handle interpersonal challenges on a daily basis.
2. Encourage Staff to Care for Their Mental and Physical Health
While you may not be able to eliminate all sources of workplace stress from your employees’ lives, you can encourage them to care for their mental and physical health. Start by offering access to quality health insurance so that they can get the healthcare they need. Not only are employees with good benefits less stressed, but they’re also more loyal to their employers.
Here are some other things steps you can take to encourage your employees to care for their mental and physical health:
Bring in a Yoga or Meditation Class: Yoga and meditation encourage relaxation and reduce stress. They can help employees develop patience and improve relationships between team members. In fact, the Harvard Business Review reports that many employers are finding ways to bring yoga and meditation into the workplace because they’re seeing immediate benefits. If you can’t afford to bring in a coach, an online app or streaming service can be an economical option.
Introduce Them to IV Vitamin Therapy: IV vitamin therapy is an excellent way to boost overall health, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep patterns. The vitamins from an IV drip are introduced directly to the bloodstream where they can do the most good. According to experts, an IV cocktail of “vitamin C, B complex, calcium gluconate, magnesium taurine, and zinc is perfect for employees who need help managing chronic stress.”
Set Up a Gym at the Office: Having an office gym makes it easy for your staff to work out before or after work, or even during breaks. Exercise is crucial for overall health, as well as reducing stress and anxiety. It’s also very effective for boosting mood and increasing energy. If you don’t have space at your business for a gym setup, try looking for a nearby gym that offers corporate discounts.
3. Offer Frequent Breaks and Paid Time Off
Forcing employees to work non-stop has damaging impacts on their moral, focus, and productivity. If your employees are overloaded at the office or they’re taking work home in the evenings and on weekends, it’s time to reconsider their workload.
Start by encouraging them to take breaks regularly throughout the workday. And, if they’re constantly sacrificing their leisure time to complete their workload, it’s time to consider hiring additional employees or at least reconsider your expectations.
Giving employees a chance to get away from the office is a great way to help them bust stress. Offering paid time off allows them to relax and rejuvenate without the stress of lost income.
4. Consider Flexible Work Schedules
For employees who have families, elderly parents, or other major commitments outside of the office, balancing home life and work can be extremely difficult. Allowing employees to work on flexible schedules gives them the ability to take care of their other obligations and allows them to be more present when they’re at work.
You might even want to consider allowing them to work from home on certain days if at all possible. Thanks to modern technology like Slack and Facetime, it’s easy to keep the lines of communication open.
5. Lead by Example
Statistics show that as many as 42 per cent of Americans never use their vacation days, so leading by example is one of the most important things you can do as an employer. Make a point of taking an annual vacation so that your employees will feel more comfortable doing so. If your employees see you neglecting your health and working around the clock, they’re likely to follow suit.
The good news is, there are plenty of steps you can take to cut employee stress. Showing your employees that you care about their health and encouraging open communication are great places to start. By making these positive changes, your employees will become more productive and your company will become a great place to work, and what employer wouldn’t want that?