There are numerous causes of stress at work. And since the pandemic, these have multiplied. Employees experienced various workplace changes, from Furlough to job insecurity, remote working and more.
These changes caused employees to become anxious and stressed, and as a consequence, workplace satisfaction and productivity levels dropped. Thankfully, there are ways that HR can create a healthy work environment and reduce work-related stress.
So, what are the more effective methods to reduce employee stress at work? The resources in this article will help HR and people teams to find the best ways to manage workplace stress.
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Related video: Workplace Mental Health: Supporting and Training your Employees. In this video, we explain the importance of mental health awareness in the workplace and some top tips for identifying and supporting your employees.
Which are the Most Common Causes of Stress at Work?
In order to detect problems within their own company, HR should be aware of the most common sources of workplace stress. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most stressful workplaces share these traits.
- Employees face excessive demands
- Expectations do not meet workers’ skillsets
- Employees lack choice and control
- Team members are unsupportive
Although some of these workplace stressors are tied to lofty expectations, having the bar set high isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can often motivate and push talent to reach new heights. The problem comes into play when elevated ambitions become inaccessible. Above all, productive teams should set realistic goals.
As stated by the WHO, a lack of team support can also add to employee stress levels. Besides this, unsupportive teams can create toxic work environments that foster microaggressions and workplace bullying. In order to avoid these problems, HR should take a stance against unacceptable behaviour and make efforts to promote inclusivity and team building.
How to Monitor Stress Levels in the Workplace
Often, the stress that employees feel goes undetected. In an effort to portray a positive image, many employees choose to not come forth about problems that they are facing. This can create difficulties for HR professionals who wish to target and reduce employee stress at work.
Before looking for a solution, it’s important to have an idea of the problem. In order to get an idea of the stress employees undergoes, human resources can use a workplace stress survey. This will allow them to understand the causes of stress and symptoms.
Tips to Reduce Employee Stress at Work
There’s no argument. Health and safety are part of the best HR practices and should be a top priority for any team. As stress is directly related to mental and physical health, stress relief and management programs should not be overlooked. In order to develop a plan to reduce workplace stress, HR professionals should take a look at these 13 tips.
1. Accept Failure, Keep Comments Constructive
Generally speaking, a large workplace stressor is the fear of failure. Let employees know that everyone makes mistakes and help managers develop strategies to find logical solutions for problems. When too much time is spent playing the blame game, nothing gets done and those who have slipped up feel hesitant to participate in the future.
2. Include Everyone
It can be extremely frustrating to not feel comfortable voicing opinions or to feel like your contribution is invalid. In fact, it is a fundamental human necessity to feel accepted. Investigate ways to reform top-down models to include the entire workforce in the decision-making process.
3. Create a Culture of Acceptance
During the pandemic, the United States experienced some of the worst divisions in history. For HR, tasks like discussing politics in the office with respect are primary objectives. In order to avoid conflict and workplace hostility, it is best to encourage trust, diplomacy, and respect when discussing difficult topics.
2. Make Responsibilities Clear
A basic cause of stress involves the unknown. Questions of responsibilities and strategies can leave too many too many mysteries and not enough clarity. In order to help workers feel confident and secure, make sure that expectations are well understood. Feelings of security can be created when everyone is on the same page.
5. Reduce Stress with Activities
Stress-reducing weekly activities can be a great way to break from the monotony and help your workforce build some healthy habits. Yoga classes, massage sessions, and music therapy are great activities that help to reduce job stress.
6. Build-in Stress Reduction Breaks
Encourage employees to take regular breaks. Especially after long stretches of intense focus. If needed, build in break times during meetings to refresh minds and add dynamism to brainstorming sessions. For a relaxing break activity, leave out some adult colouring books in shared office spaces.
7. Distraction-Free, Stress-Free Spaces
In the workplace, it is easy to get caught up in an unplanned meeting or discussion. Although interaction can be helpful, it can also make it extremely hard to zero in on tasks that require absolute concentration. For these moments, encourage employees to use a “quiet zone”. If your workforce is virtual, try to get employees to use a “do not disturb” status if necessary.
8. Fight Stress with Puppies
What’s a better way to create a playful work environment than with puppies? Although it may be unorthodox, studies show that dogs can reduce stress at work. Ask team members if they would like to share their pooches with the team, and organize a weekly pet and play session.
9. Take Group Walks
If your team is working in the office or at home, dedicating time for a walk outside can do a world of good. Aside from being a good physical activity, outdoor time can give employees a daily dose of sunshine and reduce feelings of stress and negativity.
10. Consider Decor
Aesthetics have a big impact on mood, motivation, and mental health. Although it may seem like a minor detail, clean, clutter-free spaces will help your team to have mental clarity. In order to make the space seem less sterile, brighten up the office with plants and artwork. If possible, allow employees to bring in personal objects to make the space their own.
11. Have Personal Boundaries
There is a time for work and a time for rest. HR managers should do everything possible to ensure that employees have a healthy work-life balance. Make it clear that employees are not required nor expected to work off the clock and answer emails and messages.
12. Only Meet When Needed
As deadlines draw nearer, there’s nothing more stressful than an unneeded meeting. Before scheduling meetings, encourage managers to come well prepared. Encourage them to ask, is a meeting the most effective way to communicate the information? Can a well-thought-out email save time and energy?
13. Promote Workplace Flexibility
Especially now, workplace flexibility is considered to be a make-or-break quality for any team. From the office to remote work, back to the office, back to remote work, everyone has dealt with a lot of change throughout the pandemic. Adapting to these changes is exhausting! And employees want the freedom to decide where and when they work.
Reduce Employee Stress with Flexible Scheduling
Want to improve job satisfaction and reduce employee stress at work? Give employees the option of setting their own schedules.
With time tracking software, employees can easily set their own hours and clock in and out from any device. Not only does time tracking software help employees, but benefits human resources and the company as a whole. Using a time tracking tool, HR can easily manage shifts, track attendance, and calculate extra hours. Ultimately, time trackers can help companies to reduce absenteeism and create a more satisfied and productive team.