The best leaders implement strategies to identify and reduce stress among their employees.
They know that stress is bad for their health, as well as being a productivity-killer and a key contributor to employee dissatisfaction. Eliminating all workplace stress is clearly impractical because there will always be times when your employees need to stay late or face work-related challenges. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do as a manager to keep your employees’ stress levels in check. If you’re ready to jump on the stress-less bandwagon at your workplace, here are five suggestions to get you started:
Lead by example.
Many workers follow their boss’ lead when it comes to career success. What message are you sending? If you’re in the office at dawn, stay late every night, and eat lunch at your desk on a daily basis, it’s likely that your employees will do the same. Keep in mind that you’re responsible for establishing the culture of your workplace. Commit to modeling a positive work/life balance by working reasonable hours, taking breaks, and having a life outside of the office.
Consider learning styles.
We all have different learning styles and preferences for how we digest new information. The way you distribute assignments or introduce projects can be stressful to the recipients if they process information differently than you do. For example, a multi-page memo might send a visual learner into a state of panic. While that memo may be necessary, think about other ways to summarize and present the information. Videos can be a great alternative—they can reduce stress because they provide the emotional connection that’s missing in lengthy paperwork.
Meet the right needs.
To be an effective leader, you have to meet the needs of your employees. The need might be basic—some employees just want enough money to provide for their families. Others want to add value and be recognized for their efforts. Some have a desire to grow professionally and view their work as an opportunity for development. Once you get to know your employees through conversations, observation, and assessments, do what you realistically can to meet their unique needs.
Foster a team spirit.
If a team is dysfunctional and doesn’t communicate well, there are bound to be problems that cause stress. As a leader, you need to encourage your team members to bond with each other and build solid, trusting relationships. Consider incorporating team-building activities in your staff meetings or scheduling a retreat away from the office that focuses on working together effectively.
Sometimes, your employees just need a chance to share what they’re thinking and express their concerns or complaints. To be an effective leader and reduce employee stress, you need to not only say you have an open door policy, but also follow through with it. This means actively listening to employee concerns with an open mind, and helping them find solutions to the problems that are contributing to their tension. Remember that problems come in varying degrees and your role in listening isn’t necessarily to solve those problems. An employee may just want to get something off their chest and move on, or he or she might be seeking your opinion. And, sometimes, they may need a significant amount of help. When you ask your employees upfront what kind of feedback (if any at all) they’re seeking, and verify their needs along the way, you can typically count on the best outcome.
While you can’t remove every stressor from your workplace, you can make positive changes to keep the stress at a manageable level. Given the consequences of overly-stressed employees, it’s smart to create the best atmosphere possible.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit www.thehrteam.com.