Do Something! Frazzled employees are no good for business. Stop their stress before it starts.
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Peter Bechtel can always spot stressed-out employees. They're the ones who start taking more sick days. Their tempers often flare more easily. Sometimes, they just have a look about them. "You can tell when an employee is stressed out because they carry it on their face," says Bechtel, CEO of 8-year-old eCast, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based clinical research firm.
Last summer, Bechtel was seeing more stress around the office and was feeling it himself, so he decided to do something about it. He noticed work e-mail was being used at all hours and the company's 86 employees were overloaded, so he asked them to stop using e-mail for in-depth work discussions and introduced a shared electronic calendar. Departmental meetings are now limited to less than 30 minutes. The company improved its orientation processes for new hires after they said it could use some tweaking. And Bechtel started visiting employees' offices for quick one-on-ones to make sure everyone is kept in the loop. Adjusting how the work is structured has helped reduce employee stress levels. "Employees have responded very positively," says Bechtel, 55.