You should be doing more to reduce workplace stress

March 8, 2017
You should be doing more to reduce workplace stress

Image by Dragon Images / Shutterstock, IncHow stress impacts productivity

I doubt you’re surprised to hear that stress impacts productivity. But I’m going to say it anyway: Stress impacts productivity!

How? Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych gives some good examples. As quoted in Fox Business, Dr Chaifetz says: “Unchecked stress can result in a number of productivity-sapping outcomes, from diminished work quality to absenteeism to co-worker clashes.”

But there’s a problem. Most employers accept that stress is counterproductive. But fewer are willing to accept responsibility. And by accepting responsibility, I simply mean accepting that a lot of stress is generated in the workplace – and then doing something about it.

I’ve seen some employers say things like: “When you come to work, leave your stress at the door.”

If only it was as easy as that.

Work is a leading cause of stress

You might remember a study we ran on our blog a while ago. We asked people questions about their sleep, diet and exercise habits. We also asked them about stress and fatigue. Here are a few things we learned:

  • 90% of people attribute some stress and fatigue to work-related issues
  • 35% of people attribute most stress and fatigue to work-related issues
  • 15% of people attribute almost all stress and fatigue to work-related issues

So what kind of work-related issues might be causing stress? Well, according to The Stress Report 2016, by Cascade HR, the five leading causes of stress at work are:

  • Deadlines
  • Workloads
  • Being understaffed
  • Pressure to hit targets
  • Office politics

It’s not very expensive to reduce stress levels in the workplace

Look, some stress is very difficult to avoid. I’m not going to tell you to ban deadlines, double your headcount and remove all targets. But as an employer, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce stress levels in the workplace.

Going back to The Stress Report 2016, here are the top three things you can do, according to employees:

  1. Introduce flexible working hours (47%)
  2. Finish early on Fridays (39%)
  3. Adopt a caring and friendly management style (38%)

Not all organisations are suited to flexible working hours. The same can apply to early finish Fridays. And for some people, number three might actually be too difficult to stomach – especially if you have these five bad manager habits!

But if you can adopt just one of these ideas, then you might notice that your employees’ wellbeing and productivity starts to improve considerably.

Get strict on out-of-hours work

There’s another way you can reduce stress levels in the workplace. And you can probably do this even if you can’t offer flexible working, cannot introduce early finish Fridays, and find it really difficult to be nice.

So what’s the secret? Tell your employees not to check their work email from home!

According to CIPD, checking emails outside of work is a “toxic” cause of stress. And in 2012, Volkswagen actually prevented employees receiving work emails while at home by switching off their mail servers! You can read more about all of this in one of our previous posts.

How to relieve your own stress

It’s all very well trying to reduce stress levels for other people. But what if you are totally overworking yourself, and stressed out to the max? Here’s how to reduce stress for yourself right now, in the short-term, and in the long-term:

  1. Right now. Take a long, deep breath.
  2. Short term. Remove all distractions that may be causing you to fall behind with your workload.
  3. Long term. Review your diet and sleeping patterns.

What are you doing to help reduce stress levels in the workplace?

I’d like to hear what you are doing with your employees to help them tackle stress. Are you using the suggestions above, such as early finishes and flexible working? Or are you doing something more radical?

Please leave a note below. It’s free to sign in – you can just use Facebook or Twitter. I try to respond to comments, especially if they are relevant to the article they’re attached to!

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