Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress and Boost Mental Health
Stress at work often results from pressures greater than our capacity to handle them. It can harm an employee's health. An individual may view a certain level of work-related stress as usual or healthy. Support from a manager or coworker is essential.
Importance of Reducing Workplace Stress
- Protecting your employers from work-related stress makes sense from a moral, legal, and economic perspective.
- There is first the moral angle to think about. Every organization should focus highly on employee welfare, and everyone should have an equal chance to achieve it, regardless of their mental health.
- As work-related stress is regarded as a disability that significantly affects an employee's capacity to carry out their daily tasks over an extended period, organizations must address such situations.
- In these situations, businesses are legally obligated to support those employees by making reasonable adjustments.
- Business considerations should also be considered, as work-related stress accounts for more than 15 million lost working days yearly and costs UK businesses over £5 billion.
Tips to Reduce Workplace Stress and Boost Mental Health
Recognize stress signs as they appear
You must learn to identify the signs of stress to truly assist your staff in managing it. The four categories of stress symptoms are physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional.
Headaches, tense muscles, exhaustion, chest pains, and heart palpitations are examples of physical symptoms. At the same time, cognitive symptoms, including poor memory, tiredness, and irritation, can be present.
Stress also impacts our emotional state and can cause emotional outbursts, low mood, sensitivity to criticism, low confidence, anxiety, and rage, among other symptoms. Observe the following as well:
- Arguments and disagreements
- decreased effectiveness
- increased illness absence
- greater employee turnover
Understand how to react
Before discussing organizational-wide stress-reduction strategies, it's critical to understand how to support an individual personally. Speaking with one of your employees if you think they're stressed out is crucial.
When you approach them, be sincere in your inquiries about their feelings and express your concern for them. It may be necessary to be clear and firm in voicing your problems, but it's crucial to avoid becoming coercive.
Listen without judgment when a coworker opens up to you, and refrain from offering unwanted advice. Making it apparent that you are a terrific place to start; you don't need to have all the solutions. After you've listened, inform your colleague that you are there to support them and inquire if there is anything else you can do.
Encourage employees to acquire stress-coping techniques
People start to feel anxious when they believe they lack the necessary tools to meet their demands. The first alternative is not always possible in the workplace, but you may help your staff develop the required tools (coping mechanisms) to manage their obligations successfully.
The Job Demands-Resources idea is based on this. Despite the demands of their jobs, your employees will remain engaged, challenged, and motivated if you can help them keep a ratio between their resources and needs. They will then be able to control their stress at work.
Minimize the gaps
Coaching your staff to select a gap, such as anything that is stressing them out, that they can take action on is another method for helping them manage stress. Any gap will do as a starting point; it need not be the most significant or most uncomfortable; trying to reduce stress in this region in any manner makes us better able to handle the remainder.
According to Sue Evans, founder of the workplace well-being company FAST Pathways, "even if they can't completely close the gap, reducing it little by little can make it easier to cope.
Lead by example
The solution to workplace stress is a problem that affects all employees. In truth, managers and other leaders significantly influence how people behave. Change must begin at the top; if you aren't setting an example for your team, they aren't likely to follow. When it comes to assisting your staff in managing their stress, this may be true. Leaders should speak out in favor of stress reduction and educate themselves and the rest of the company about the signs and causes of stress.
This has to do with changing the organizational culture, and that has to start at the top. The organization will go where they lead. Therefore, you must convince them to follow you even if you are not a leader.
Be realistic and transparent
It's essential to be open and transparent with your staff if you want to help them. This implies accepting uncertainty, whether brought on by the pandemic or another challenging circumstance the employee is dealing with.
It's paramount to be upfront about your expectations. This could mean you only want them to work during office hours and expect them to set clear boundaries when they work from home.
This straightforward measure can assist your staff in avoiding uncertainty, which can cause stress. Finally, be open and honest about their objectives and make sure they are attainable. Using the SMART objectives method, you can guarantee a high level of transparency.
Engage staff members in decision-making
Giving workers a say in how their work is organized and carried out will give them a sense of control that can act as a buffer against job-related stress because stress is closely linked to the perception of control. You can achieve this in the following ways:
- enabling flexibility in terms of working hours
- setting performance goals in collaboration with the employee
- allowing workers to set their own work pace
Support your staff in becoming more social
Your people must get as much social interaction as they can. Your employees spend a lot of time working together, whether they are doing so on-site, in an office, or from home. Additionally, they will experience less stress the more at ease they get with one another.
Expectations and communication barriers are reduced when coworkers get to know one another, resulting in future interactions being simpler. Using an online messaging service like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or WhatsApp to build an online social channel is a quick way to increase social activity within your company, especially while working from home.
Tell your coworkers that the track is not for business purposes, and urge them to participate without worrying about being accused of squandering time.
Make quiet time
Stress is unavoidable, regardless of how skillfully your wellness measures are implemented. You can lessen its impact by providing your staff with a quiet area where they can take a break.
Another tactic, especially applicable to remote employees, is to think about carving off time during the workweek. Make sure it's apart from the everyday grind so that your staff may take a break from their workday and focus on something else. A vacant conference room, workplace, or even a bench outside could be a primary example.
This can entail instituting "No Meeting Mondays" or designating a period each day during which meetings are discouraged, and staff members are urged to concentrate on a single activity. Employees may be able to avoid becoming bogged down in discussions or overworked, both of which can lead to stress.
Create a culture of support at work
The key to lowering stress in your workforce is developing and maintaining a supportive workplace culture where coworkers feel comfortable discussing their difficulties with anxiety or other areas of mental health.
However, creating this culture can be difficult, particularly in businesses that haven't previously prioritized wellness programs. Simply starting the conversation and beginning to dispel the stigma that, regrettably, still surrounds stress and mental health will be your first course of action.
Many workers will be reluctant to talk about their mental health issues, and others could be concerned about the potential adverse effects of doing so on their jobs. Asking your coworkers how they're frequently doing might be a good start when creating a supportive workplace culture. It shows that you care about them.
Provide opportunities for training and growth
Employees may experience stress due to worries about their job security and professional advancement. By providing opportunities for training and growth, you can lessen this.
You may decide on the activity you can provide after asking your employees what talents they would like to improve and what direction they would like their approach. By providing this training, you may help your employees feel more secure about their jobs and improve their performance.
Reduce stress and anxiety when there are changes
Change is frequently present in the workplace. However, never undervalue how these changes affect your well-being and your employees. Even seemingly minor changes can significantly impact morale and the degree of work stress. Be open and honest with your staff about any upcoming changes. You must ensure that your staff members feel educated, trusted, and inspired throughout times of transition.
Tell them why these changes were made, and encourage them to ask questions if further information is needed if they have any questions.
Stress at work is typically caused by workload. It is likely to become a significant cause of strain if the amount of work or the deadlines are beyond the capabilities of your employee. You must make sure that your staff members can handle the responsibilities of their jobs.
This is possible by establishing goals that can be met within the constraints of their working hours, ensuring that a worker's aptitudes are compatible with the requirements of their position, addressing any worries a worker may have regarding the conditions of their employment, holding regular meetings with teams and individuals to talk about forthcoming tasks and any anticipated busy times and so on.
Enhance work environment
If the working environment is unpleasant, encourages unhealthy behaviors (such as little movement), or aggravates existing health concerns, like MSK discomfort, your staff (and you) may feel agitated. Work together to consider how you could alter this if the workplace makes the employee feel stressed out about their job.
Workplace stress should not be considered a normal part of working life because it is not an issue that will magically disappear. People will recall how you treated them as their employer when they were going through a difficult time.
If an employee is stressed at work, seize the chance to step up to the plate and show that you care about their wellness. Doing this can promote high performance and a flourishing culture throughout your company, enabling people to grow within and outside the workplace and perform at their best.