Working the 9 to 5 grind comes with a lot of stress, which is one of the biggest dangers to your workforce -- whether you run a chop shop or a coffee shop. When employees get stressed, not only are they prone to making mistakes, they also face very real health problems such as elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. In addition, stress-induced burnout at work can lead to depression which in turn can lead to rapid weight change, heart disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
Sadly, stress is simply a factor in today’s working environment. Customers are more demanding, technologies used for jobs are ever-changing and more is generally required from employees and employers alike for a business to be successful. However, there are many methods employers can utilize to reduce workplace stress -- and it all starts with understanding what causes the stress to begin with.
The following methods can help you effectively curtail employee stress in your business.
1. Know what stresses out your employees.
In a study conducted by the CDC, about 40 percent of all workers noted that their job was highly stressful, regardless of the industry. In fact, a quarter reported their job as being the most stressful part of their life. When it comes to workplace stress, there are several factors involved. However, the most commonly cited causes of stress include:
- Their workload
- People they work with
- Work-life balance
- Lack of job security
If you are worried that your employees are getting stressed out and burned out at work, open a conversation about it. Chances are, they will not approach you about increased stress levels; after all, they may worry their job could be on the line.
Prashant Saraswat, the co-founder of Truegether.com, says this approach has helped him manage stress when his employees feel worked-out. “Managing a growing ecommerce business is not an easy job and employees were feeling the pressure the most. Talking to them and understanding the cause of the low performance helped us tackle it head-on,” he said.
By offering a way for employees to discuss what is causing them stress, you may be able to make simple changes to bring the spirit of the workplace back up.
2. Create a less stressful environment.
Eliminating stress entirely is hard, especially in a workplace. However, there are many ways you can make your workplace more peaceful. Perhaps the most important thing to do is remember that your employees are humans -- and allow them to remember that as well. When stress levels are overwhelming, remind your employees that they are allowed to step away for a moment to rejuvenate.
Going for a walk, having a coffee in the break room, taking a moment to meditate and breathe or even just having a non-work related conversation with coworkers can help refresh the mind.
If you notice tension is still high after implementing new stress reducing techniques, consider your own work habits. If employees notice you are glued to your desk from dawn to dusk, they will be less likely to take breaks. Nobody wants to be outworked by the boss, especially if they are worried about job security. But if they notice you go on walks or otherwise take a few minutes away from your work, employees will be more comfortable doing the same.
Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Stress
3. Grant more autonomy.
Though it is not one of the most cited issues, feeling like every tiny movement is controlled and monitored is a quick way for employees to become burned out from stress. As the millennial generation becomes the biggest demographic in today’s workforce, it is important to understand how their minds work. One of the most important factors millennials consider when in search of a job is the workplace environment. They want to have at least some control over what they do, and how they do it.
While you are not able to change every aspect of your business to accommodate this new mindset, there are some things you can do.
Automation might be a perfect way to go. You can streamline the process by using an employee scheduling software. Though this may sound surprising, consider what happens when, say, an employee needs to switch shifts due to a family emergency. If they have to fill out paperwork, submit it and wait for managerial approval, they may just call in sick instead, leaving you short-staffed. Further, you have to sit down and deal with the paperwork and call around to get the shift covered.By granting autonomy in scheduling, you lower stress levels for both your employees and yourself.