Health, Stress and Your Employees

It’s a busy time of the year! Lots of work is coming through the office and while that is normally celebrated as keeping your industry productive, it can put a lot of stress on even your hardest working employees. As an employer, you are going to want to have safeguards in place for the health of your constituents, not just for their benefit, but also for yours. Healthy, happy employees have longer retention and are even more productive. This article does not say that stress is bad, stress within appropriate levels can actually help you and your employees stay focused, energized and encourage you to reach higher ambitions. As an employer, you may not be able to cut down on the amount of work, or the type of work your employees need to take on, however, there are plenty of ways you can reduce the overall stress level of the office. Before we jump into how to reduce stress for your employees, this article will also address how to identify stress, and how to take preventive measures when you know a stressful season, like the holidays is coming.

Stress looks different amongst different people, the way our bodies respond to stress depend on our hormonal balances, the level of stress, and their comfort zone level. Your employees might start to exhibit certain signs of stress that can be easily seen by an employer. If you notice a sudden mood change, more anxious, irritable, and depressed, these could be major indicators. On top of that they may be more apathetic about their work, seem extremely fatigued or have trouble concentrating during conversations, meetings, and work. Another key indicator would be if a normally social employee who enjoys interacting with their colleagues is suddenly withdrawn from social interactions. If employees are also beginning to call in sick frequently, complaining of stomach problems or muscle tension and headaches, this is also an indicator of stress. If any of these symptoms are sounding like a risk for long-term health issues, then you are correct, stress has been linked to many long-term physical, mental, emotional, and social problems down the line, and even worsens pre-existing chronic diseases.

So now we know what stress looks like in your employees before you even have to start looking for those symptoms, here are a few things you can institute at your office to assist in both your personal health and your employees. There are a few things that you can’t always provide to lower stress in the office. Stress can be generated from fears of being laid off, staff cutbacks, pressure to constantly perform at a higher expectation without increasing in pay or satisfaction. As an employer you can’t always curb these fears and pressures, instead, you can offer a few things in the office. Encouraging positive relationships amongst your employees can raise satisfaction and reduce stress. Providing a pleasant space for your employees to take a break in and encourage face to face interactions can help soothe some of the awkwardness of making adult friendships. Having staff bonding and team building exercises can also assist in these conditions. You can also strongly encourage exercise during the work day, organize walks for your employees, or even get a team together for a charity walk! It’s good for your business to support a charity and good for your employees to get a little extra movement to reduces stress.  Having an open space for employees to make social connections, setting up exercise prior to high levels of stress, and communicating the importance of these exercises could be excellent preventive measures in your company to keep you and your employees happy and keep stress in their comfort level.

Stress is already here, you can feel it mounting in your office and creating a tense and overall unproductive atmosphere. Your employees may start to exhibit the symptoms discussed earlier, and you want to know how to intervene. If you can’t directly than tackle the problem head on, and reducing workload or reassuring employees about layoffs, there are a few other options. Talk with your employees about task management and help them set a more reasonable schedule. This could include prioritizing certain tasks and re-establishing deadlines, this way they can feel as though they are doing one task at a time instead of multiple.

Also, the feeling of accomplishing an important task early will be gratifying and encourage more work. Sometimes the projects assigned are large and complicated, this can be overwhelming for your staff. Work with them, and teach them how to break down these large projects into smaller steps. Are your managers also feeling stressed? Or is there one employee, in particular, taking on a bulk of the work. If possible, teaching your employees (and sometimes yourself) how to delegate at roles and responsibilities can help reduce stress and reestablish your staff as a team.  Your best options for overly stressed employees, in hard and stressful environments, will come down to two main elements: communication and consultation. It is important to assess where the stress is coming from, have face to face communication in a calm and attentive measure, and finally consult your employees to see how they are feeling about deadlines and their work. This consultation can help boost morale and show individuals that their work and input is valued.

When your work environment gets busy sometimes it’s best to take a step back and assess your office level of stress. Employees will be thankful for preventative measures, but also their boss noticing when situations are tough. Having open communication with valued work is a good way to reduce stress and increase healthy staff. Cultivating a friendly environment that is within stress level comfort zones creates the productivity you need for a sustainable company. Make sure to use these preventative tips to help with your own level of stress, setting a good example to your employees on healthy working environments will make your company an excellent place to work in.

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