Stress management at workplace is getting to be buzz word in corporate circles. A survey indicated that workplace stress costs the nation close to $300 billion each year in terms of health care, work absenteeism and rehabilitation. The management can no longer brush aside the ever increasing concern of stress management in workplace because it has become clear that mismanagement of this problem cuts deeply into profits and productivity.
Managers, now more than ever, are trying to find new ways for managing employee morale and stress. Stress management programs at work place, conducted by external consultancies or internal execs, are quite popular these days but the question remains – are they really effective at curbing the problem?
The depressing state of economy and employee stress are directly proportional in their relationship. How does a manager motivate his employees to be productive and efficient, while keeping their stress levels in control, especially when increased monetary benefits and compensation is not a viable option?
This article serves to provide a few effective strategies and tips for managers for managing stress at workplace.
Tips for Managers – Stress Management Strategies at Work Place
1.) Developing empathy – Respect individual personality traits and quirks. No single human is the same as the other; the richness that comes up in any team is because of this difference, learn to appreciate it. Work optimally with what you have instead of trying to mould the employee according to your standards. You will find introverts, extroverts, optimistic as well as pessimistic employees in your team, don’t favor or alienate anyone for their personality traits. Get to know each employee personally and interact with them at a level which is comfortable for them.
2.) Installing booths for anonymous complaints and feedbacks – There is no better way to secure the trust of employees, and reduce employee stress, than to allow them to voice their feedback and complaints. Conduct a weekly meeting to address their concerns. Don’t take any negative feedback personally; try to address it in the best way possible. Sometimes a word of encouragement or hope can assuage the deepest fears in any employee and help stress management in workplace.
3.) Providing healthy food in the canteens – Small things go a long way in creating a happy and stress free work environment. Most employees like to unwind and relax during the lunch breaks, so the canteen should be a stress free place and food should be healthy. A noisy crowded canteen which supplies limpid food can offset the most optimistic of employees.
4.) Monthly one to one interactions – Most managers seem to be implementing this strategy but without any concrete results. Ask yourself if you are really empathizing with the employee’s concern or are you trying to defend your point of view? These meetings should be forums for the employees to come out with their concerns and suggestions for work place improvements. They should feel confident that you are willing to give them a fair and unprejudiced hearing. In itself this can be a very useful strategy for managing stress in workplace.
5.) Offering small incentives in terms of money and paid leaves – Small incentives can go a long way in encouraging better productive among the employees. A gift during their birthdays, small bonuses for achieving deadlines and project completion, occasional paid dinners or lunches at a good restaurant and paid leaves, can make the employees feel appreciated and encouraged while reducing work place stress.
6.) Addressing performance fear among employees – Some top performing employees tend to slack-off after a while because they feel out of place among the rest of their colleagues. Top performers need to be encouraged privately so that they don’t feel discomforted among other colleagues. A low performing employee should be dealt with even more carefully, the reasons for their slack need to be addressed with alacrity – may be the work they are doing is not challenging enough or may be there is a lack of guidance on your part.
7.) Helping employees manage time effectively – Clear guidance and deadlines help the employees organize their work more effectively. Blurred instructions can cause employee stress through confusion or lack of direction. Emphasize the need for punctuality and time management but also encourage them to wind up their work by a definite closing time. Spending extra hours in the office becomes a habit with certain employees and this actually eats into their productivity in the long run.
8.) Praising employees for performance – You can employ small gestures of encourage and praise for the top performers to acknowledge their efforts and motivate the others. Be sure to acknowledge hard workers, smart workers and out-the-box thinkers – as long as an employee is giving his or her best they should be well appreciated. A useful tip for managers in managing stress at workplace would be – don’t appear partial to any particular employee.
9.) Giving employees assurances that they will not be laid off – The greatest source of employee stress is job insecurity so you should try your best to assuage this fear. Sometimes hard decisions need to be taken but the way you communicate these decisions to the team would go a long way in assuring them and keeping them less stressed.
10.) Stress relieving toys and activities in the office – To add a dash of sporty feeling to the office you can place a few stress toys at employee cubes. Sand timers, pin arts, squeeze balls, jigsaw puzzles and cubix can add some fun to bland cubes and act as stress relievers for the employees.
11.) Improving interiors – The paint and lighting used in the office can also affect employee moods and stress. Go for light colors and yellow lights to keep the mood tranquil. Bright white lights are known to create more stress. Make sure the cubes are not too cramped and some personal space is available to each employee.
12.) Placing plants at the office cubicles – There is nothing like a dash of nature to liven up sagging spirits. Thick green foliage and flowering plants create a soothing environment in the office and improve the employee feel good factor.
13.) Ensuring a less noisy environment in the office – Silence is the antidote for stress and noise the perpetrator. Talk to the employees and ask them to keep the noise level as minimal as possible, especially while they are on phones. Make the office sound proof by lining the cubes and walls with sound absorbing materials and fabric.
14.) Ensuring clean washrooms and pantries – A leaking bathroom faucet or urinal can offset the best of moods. Make sure your employ enough cleaning staff to keep the washrooms and pantries in a sanitary and spotless condition.
15.) Delegating work efficiently: Allow for proper work delegation to avoid over burdening of some employees. There are times when certain employees are over worked while others have plenty of leisure time – bad delegation is the culprit. Keep tab of the work being done by the employees and ensure judicious work circulation.
16.) Not forcing employees to attend extra-curricular activities – Respect individuality among your employees. Some of your team members will prefer solitude to gatherings; restrain yourself from forcing them to attend get-togethers and outings. Allow plenty of space for the employees to express their individuality instead of expecting them to always behave with a group mind-set. Some managers encourage open dress codes for this very reason.
18.) Encouraging employees to add a personal touch to their cubicles – Some employees feel more at home when they add a few personal touches to their work stations. Posters, framed photos, toys and other personal stationeries can add a touch of individuality to their work environment and help them feel less stressed.