Stress can come from all areas of life. Whenever there is a demand, challenge or pressure for us to deal with, there’s a chance for stress to occur. Work-related stress is therefore common, and while it’s often seen as a normal part of working life, too much stress can hinder employees’ productivity, motivation and wellbeing. Businesses therefore play a key role in ensuring that their culture and working environment minimises work-related stress while also providing useful tools to help employees cope with any other challenges they may be facing.
So, here are some simple ways you can reduce your employees’ stress levels.
1. Understand the signs of stress
It’s useful to understand what stress can look like, so you have a better chance of identifying when an employee might be struggling and can provide the necessary support. People react to stress in different ways and therefore show signs of it in different ways too. However, there are some typical indicators that you should be aware of. Behavioural symptoms include being visibly tired, irritable or unable to concentrate. On top of that, employees that are working long hours or having more time off might also be suffering from the effects of severe stress. The key thing here is to be mindful of any significant changes in behaviour or performance, as that might indicate something is going on.
2. Be flexible and compassionate
In a high-pressure working environment, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of deadlines, targets and commitments and forget about other people and how they’re coping. When this happens, employees are at risk of becoming swamped by work and likely to end up too stressed to function effectively, making the situation worse. To combat this, you need to prioritise your people and adopt a more flexible and compassionate approach. Your employees are human who not only have lives outside of work, but have limits too, so this needs to be taken into consideration to avoid putting too much pressure on them.
So, whether it’s giving your employees the freedom to work around their home lives, or just simply being more accommodating in terms of your expectations, by treating your employees as humans and respecting their limitations, you’ll create an environment in which they’ll thrive.
3. Encourage and allow your employees to disconnect
We’re living in a world where it’s almost become an expectation to be ‘switched on’ all of the time, but this isn’t sustainable and can push people down a path to stress or worse, burnout. Just like you wouldn’t expect your phone to continue working if you didn’t charge it, you can’t expect your employees to work well and cope with demands at work if they aren’t given time to recharge. It’s therefore essential to allow your employees time to disconnect. Not only does this mean you should encourage your employees to use their holiday allowance, but it also means that work should be reserved for when your employees are actually working. In other words, no emails after work hours, no phone calls on the weekend. By giving your employees time to recharge their batteries, they’ll come into work feeling refreshed, motivated and prepared.
4. Promote wellbeing
The wellbeing of your employees will not only have an impact on their ability to deal with the various challenges both life and work throws at them, but it’ll also be affected by stress. It’s therefore important that you encourage your employees to look after their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. You can do this by delivering a holistic wellbeing programme that gives your employees access to a range of useful resources and support tools, but you can also organise events and campaigns that focus on the importance of wellbeing. By doing this, you’ll give your employees the tools to feel healthier and stronger in all aspects of life, so they’re better equipped to deal with and bounce back from stressful situations.
5. Recognise individual efforts
Recognition can go a long way in reducing work-related stress. An employee might be feeling overwhelmed, over-stretched and unappreciated, but if someone in the business takes a moment to personally recognise their efforts and thank them for their commitment, that can make all the difference. It encourages them to take a step back, acknowledge their achievements and remind themselves that they’re capable, which can easily be forgotten in times of stress.
On top of that, being appreciated by someone else in the business reminds employees that they’re all working together as a team to achieve the same thing. That sense of teamwork and shared ownership over tasks not only brings people together but helps to relieve any individual pressure people might be feeling.
Author: Peoplevalue, the Employee Engagement Company www.peoplevalue.co.uk