How To Tame Stress In Your Company

A recent survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that nearly 75% of Americans say they’re stressed out. And, among their top stress-causing concerns, 70% of …

A recent survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that nearly 75% of Americans say they’re stressed out. And, among their top stress-causing concerns, 70% of respondents reported work as a big contributor, surpassed only by money with 76% of respondents worried about income, followed by 65% of respondents apprehensive about the economy. High workplace stress levels aren’t just impacting the U.S. Stress levels across Canada were up 30% in 2010, according to a recent Desjardins Financial Security National Health Survey. Experts suggest it is the biggest occupational health problem facing Canada. 

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Hefty workloads, deficient resources, and continued apprehension about the economy, financial stability, and job security are just a few of the troubles plaguing the workplace and distressing employees. But, because stress has become such a common reality in today’s world, it can be easy to overlook its frightening impact in the workplace.
 
The Nature of the Beast 
Each year, more than 275 million working days are lost in the U.S. alone due to stress-related absenteeism, according to Fast Company. The magazine also reported that mental health days cost employers more than $600 annually for every employee, all of which can add up quickly.
 
Occupational stress not only gobbles up productivity and employee engagement, it can also harm cognitive performance like concentration, resulting in costly mistakes and on-the-job injuries. It’s a leading cause of burnout and turnover. And, stress is linked to chronic health issues ranging from psychological disorders like depression to diabetes and heart disease. Stress can devastate a company’s profitability with attrition, productivity, medical expenses, and legal fees. It can rip apart a team with disagreements, dissension, and worst of all – workplace violence. 
 
The truth is, workplace stress is becoming a monster of a challenge for many companies and it’s getting bigger. It may no longer be a reality we can all live with. With three out of four employees reporting extremely high stress levels, it’s time for businesses, company leaders, and employees alike to fight back and defeat the monster.
 
Manage your own stress.
As a leader of your company, you not only have your own stress to worry about, you also have to worry about the pressures and anxieties facing each member of your team. But, until you manage your own stress, you may only be compounding theirs. According to a recent article on Inc.com, studies show employees read the mood of their boss for insight into performance and job security. So, if you’re not dealing well with your own stress, it could directly impact your team. 
 
Before you deal with your employees’ stress levels, it’s imperative that you find ways to cope with your own. Because the last thing your team needs is a frustrated, anxiety-ridden boss stomping through the office destroying employee morale and demolishing projects like Godzilla on a rampage. 
 
 
Identify workplace issues contributing to stress.


Once you have your stress level under control, it’s important to identify the workplace stressors that impact your employees on a daily basis, whether it’s unrealistic expectations and heavy workloads or missing procedures that should be implemented. Talking openly and honestly with your team about how you can help relieve some of their stress is a great start to uncovering the issues they face. 
 
Sometimes the solution can be as simple as implementing a project management tool or hiring temporary workers to help lighten the workload for a little while to get your team back on track. But before you can come up with the solution, you need to understand the problem. If open communication with your team isn’t giving you the bigger picture you need, consider conducting a confidential organizational survey to get feedback on employee satisfaction to help you make changes needed to improve workplace conditions. 
 
Encourage participation in company wellness efforts.


When we exercise, our body produces endorphins that help ward off worry. So, find ways to encourage your team to participate in your company’s wellness efforts. 
 
Don’t have a company wellness program? Start your own efforts to promote your team’s health. It could be as simple as sharing health information on the benefits of exercise or creating a points system where employees are rewarded for healthy choices like going to the gym. Consider sponsoring your employees in a race in your community like a fun run or a marathon, to encourage employee participation. You’ll not only help your team reduce stress and live healthy, you’ll also build team trust all while giving back to your community. With workers still thinking about their new year’s resolutions, now’s the perfect time to create a wellness program that benefits the whole team. It may seem like just another thing to add to your workload but the steps you take now will impact your team in a big way down the road. 
 
Make vacation a priority.


Work-life balance is an important part of managing stress, so make sure your employees are taking vacation time to relax and recuperate. A refreshed, happy employee is, after all, a more productive and engaged employee. 
 
With heavier workloads and fears of job loss, many workers have been skipping out on taking time off. But, whether they stay at home or take an exotic holiday far away from the office, everyone needs to get away once in a while. And, as a part of managing your own stress, remember that includes you too. If it’s hard to juggle schedules with fewer employees, try taking just a couple of days off here and there instead of a week or two because every little bit helps. 
 
 
Clean out the closet – literally.


If stress is lurking behind the doors of your workplace, it may be time to clean out a closet or an unused office to create a stress-free zone where workers can go to relax. 
 
When you feel stressed, you’re actually experiencing your body’s reaction to perceived dangers and threats as part of a fight or flight response. But as it turns out, you also have a built-in stress reliever – breathing. According to a recent NPR report, breathing exercises can have an immediate influence on changes to blood pressure, can be used as a method to train our reaction to stressful situations, and can reduce harmful stress hormone production. So creating a quiet, relaxing space where workers can go to take a break, get away from it all, and just breathe for a minute could go a long way to relieving tensions and preventing conflicts between co-workers. 
 
Workplace stress has become a growing problem for businesses and employees everywhere. Start taming the stress in your office by trying some of the stress reducing tips today before it scares away your top talent and gobbles up your company productivity and profitability.
 

This article was republished with permission from Express Employment Professionals.

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