There are many causes of workplace stress. But it is very important, as an employer, to be able to understand how you can help reduce stress in the workplace, and support your employees manage stress.
Even though you will be managing your own stresses, you should be aware that stress affects people very differently. Some stress can lead to better productivity or positive changes (such as promotions, marriage or a new baby). But other stress can cause serious physical, mental and emotional issues.
A 2021 report from CIPHR recorded that 23% of UK adults say that work in general makes them feel stressed, while 18% say that workload demands are another cause of stress.
We all know the most important thing in your business is its people. So, how do we ensure we support our employees manage stress at work?
Step 1: Be transparent and empathetic to help your employees manage stress
It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. Exercising empathy and compassion is key to all our steps in this blog.
However, leaders should look to “spend time and effort developing and recognising their people, welcoming feedback, including criticism and fostering cooperation among staff”, according to seminal research project at the University of New South Wales. Sounds like a long way of saying “be transparent” to us!
Being honest will go a long way in creating a culture that encourages conversation and collaboration. If you lead the way with being transparent, your staff will likely feel supported when they need to be honest about if they are dealing with too much stress.
Here at RecruitmentJunky, we have recently decided to improve our benefits package (which you’ll see more on if you follow us on LinkedIn). How did we manage to put together such an awesome package? WE ASKED! We put together a series of surveys and welcomed open and honest discussions to ensure we were giving the team what they really wanted. And if there was something in particular that one employee really takes an interest in, we involved them!
Our biggest tip is to act on the feedback you ask for. Don’t force your employees to complete survey after survey and do nothing about it – it is important to make them feel listened to.
Step 2: Encourage good communication and socialising
Poor communication can be a source of great stress… And, stress can lead to poor communication!
Therefore, good communication is vital to managing stress in the workplace. It reduces and prevents stress-inducing mistakes. And the more co-workers get to know each other, expectations and communication barriers are broken down, meaning future interactions are even easier.
Here are a few scenarios that may happen regularly in your team or business, where you can encourage good communication and be sensitive to higher levels of stress:
Have a new member of staff joining your team?
You can expect their stress levels to be high! Ask colleagues to give the new starter a warm welcome, and include new staff members in group meetings. Encourage them to ask questions and explore conversations with others in the beginning, so they really get a chance to feel part of the team. Also make sure you are very clear with your methods and expectations around communication from the start.
Does your team have an increased workload suddenly?
You may not be able to lessen the load, but you can talk to your staff and provide creative solutions to help them succeed. Managers can help their teams by setting clear one-at-a-time task prioritisation, without overlapping milestones. Talk to individuals privately to find ways that work for them.
Got an important work deadline approaching?
It’s not just about communicating effectively – it’s about communicating early. Encourage colleagues to express any frustration or disappointment gently (rather than when it reaches a boiling point). This way can identify and de-escalate potentially stressful situations early.
Work in a team of people who are remote or hybrid-working styles? Or need to encourage cross-team or -department communication for a new project?
A great way to de-stress is by socialising. It is important to encourage social interaction among the team. In particular, working from home can get lonely and overwhelming at times.
We suggest setting aside some time before or after online meetings for general chit chat and organising team bonding activities. This is super important when it comes to mental health and loneliness when working from home.
Step 3: Workload management is key to help your employees manage stress
One of the biggest sources of stress for employees is their workload. Sometimes a workload can seem large and overwhelming when you aren’t managing your time correctly. Be realistic with the workload you give out to your employees, and always take note on how they are managing it.
It is a great idea to offer advice and solutions to your employees if you see them struggling. Tips on how to spot and avoid a burnout, how to block out time for certain tasks, and what important tasks need prioritising first.
Step 4: Encourage time off and offer flexibility
It is important to take time off from work to avoid burnouts and becoming overwhelmed. As a leader, you should encourage your team to book time off and completely turn off their emails and work phone. (And note how much more productive, creative and motivated they are after a short break.) Be purposeful about creating down-periods or down cycles for your staff between big projects too. Let people have buffer time to recharge.
Stress doesn’t just come from work, so be sympathetic and allow your employees to take a day off at the last minute when they need to. Allow for mental health days, family hours (when children are sick), time to get on top of personal life tasks etc.
Step 5: Recognise hard work and celebrate successes
It can be very easy to get caught up on the negatives and sometimes sidestep the positives. But it is very important to ensure you are celebrating successes for individuals and teams to boost morale.
In fact, research shows that employee productivity, performance and engagement are 14% higher in company’s with recognition programmes in place compared to those without. It has also been found that the number 1 reason why employees leave their jobs is due to lack of recognition.
These are a few of the ways we recognise and celebrate our employee success at RecruitmentJunky:
- Recognition by managers in team chats and group calls, congratulating teams or individuals for their hard work.
- Awards ceremonies.
- Celebrate ‘workaversaries’.
- Messages or calls from the CEO to individual employees who are excelling.
- Regular leaderboard updates – shouting out those who have made a sale or a new partner.
Step 6: Provide workplace wellness to help handle stress
Finally, it is important to support your team by encouraging their mental wellness at work. There are many ways to incorporate mental wellness within the team, such as:
- Encourage employees to go on a walk during lunch breaks.
- Subsidise gym memberships.
- Have a specialist mental health first aider in the team.
- Regularly provide information on mental health and how to deal with stress.
- Access to mental health support schemes or counseling(such as through an app or a phone line).
- Encouraging managers to have regular one-to-one meetings with staff, to talk through any issues.
At RecruitmentJunky we find applying these points results in less stressed employees, improved work environment and better results. We hope you have found these tips useful to help your employees manage stress. For more resources, check out the Mental Health Foundation.
Read our recent blog on what we got up to during stress awareness month here.
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