Have you got a stressful job? Do you work long hours or to tight deadlines? Perhaps your role involves a high level of responsibility or you are under a lot of pressure to avoid mistakes?

Stress is a normal part of everyday life and the workplace is no different. Indeed, most jobs will involve some level of stress. Some work-related stress can actually have a positive impact on employee productivity. But what happens when these demands and pressures become excessive?

As any successful people manager would know, a high level of stress can end up costing both your staff and the business dearly. Stress is associated with a range of physical health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Various psychological health issues such as anxiety and depression and can also be caused or exacerbated by workplace stress. This inevitably impacts your bottom line. Increased absenteeism and high staff turnover will cause the business to suffer increased cost and reduced productivity. In extreme cases, workplace stress can even result in a costly claim for workers compensation.

As an employer, you have an obligation under the model Work Health and Safety legislation to provide and maintain a safe work environment for your staff. This includes recognising and managing workplace stress. So what can you do to manage and reduce stress in your workplace?

  1. Encourage open communication:

Open communication will not only assist in effectively communicating your standards and expectations, it may also assist your staff in sharing their own stress. Consider a mentoring program or encourage an open-door policy as a way to achieve this.

  1. Manage excessive workloads:

Businesses often start small with only a handful of workers who multitask rather than specialise. However, multitasking leads to stress as the business grows, particularly for those staff members who do not have the required experience to perform their wide range of tasks and duties. Manage excessive workloads by ensuring that your staffing levels are adequate, rather than simply reacting to increases in demand.

  1. Provide a chill out space:

A chill out space can be a great way to allow your staff members to relax and unwind, which in turn reduces stress. This could be a quiet lunch area or a fun games room which encourages innovation and creative thinking. Everyone needs a space where they can get away from work and release their built up stress before it overcomes them!

  1. Ensure meetings are meaningful:

Inefficient use of time will inevitably result in people experiencing stress. It really is surprising just how much time can be taken up by meetings! Consider sending an email or another form of communication rather than conducting a face-to-face meeting. Where a meeting is necessary, consider who is required to attend and set an agenda so as to ensure that time spent is kept to a minimum.

  1. Provide regular breaks:

Deadlines and demands usually leads to workers suffering physical and mental stress. But over-working your staff members can actually be counter-productive. Regular breaks reinvigorate the body and the mind. Staff members who take regular breaks should be rewarded, not punished for being away from their desk.

  1. Encourage health and wellbeing:

It’s easy for staff to neglect their health and wellbeing when they are focused on work. But the business will benefit from healthy workers who are stronger and more resilient to stress. Consider providing gym discounts, organising weekly fitness activities or simply providing fruit around the office as a means to encourage overall health and wellbeing.

  1. Set clear expectations:

Staff members who are unsure of their role or responsibilities will inevitably become frustrated and stressed. A written job description is essential in setting clear expectations for your workers. You should also implement a well drafted and comprehensive Employee Handbook to assist in communicating your expectations across the business.

  1. Be flexible:

For many businesses, flexible work provides a cost-effective means to minimise workplace stress. Part time arrangements or flexible start / finish times may assist workers to minimise commute times or meet family commitments. In turn, this will generate greater loyalty and therefore increased productivity as well as a significant reduction in recruitment costs.

  1. Lead by example:

As a people manager, it is essential that you lead by example when it comes to reducing work-related stress. Practice what you preach and don’t let your own personal stress filter down to those under your care.

Hot Tip: Do you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

A range of work and personal problems can adversely affect the health and wellbeing of your workers. EAP is a cost-effective means of providing your staff with short-term access to professional counselling and support services which they can access on a free and confidential basis. There a range of providers out there – contact HR Assured for a recommendation!

For more information on the recommendations and what this means for you, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.