How stressed is your workplace?
A recent study has found that 82% of American workers feel feel at least a little stressed at work. 6% say that their job is extremely stressful. And 38% say they feel more stress this year compared to last year.
It seems that in today’s world it’s a badge of honor to be busy and overworked.
I don’t get that.
There are more studies being done now to look into the benefits of being well-rested, relaxed and in a good frame of mind. The results so far have been positive. Pro athletes that get more sleep are performing better. Students with more sleep are doing better on tests.
And workers that feel less stress are producing better results.
As a business owner and manager, better results are an obvious goal.
But I get it. The pressure is there to grow the business and the result is pushing a little more and a little more. Employees do the same. They push themselves because they want to advance and do well.
But when the balance is tipped too far things can go downhill for all involved.
Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect when it comes to this, but I’m trying to pay more attention to stress levels and I wanted to see what the options are for helping employees that are feeling stressed out.
Here is what I’ve found so far.
If possible, limit the hours any one person can work. There has been research into this topic for a number of years and it seems to keep pointing to the fact that working more than 40 hours each week leads to a drop in health and a drop in performance.
It’s challenging. Some people want to work more than 40 hours a week. They want to earn more. They want to advance.
The challenge is finding ways for employees to fulfill those aspirations while limiting their hours to a healthy level for them and for the business.
It also might be an indication that you need to hire additional workers to handle the workload. That’s challenging because the next employee might not be as good as the one you have now, but sometimes for a growing business you need to go through growing pains in the short-term so there can be long-term benefits.
Another side of this is not getting enough personal time and time with family and friends. That was cited as an issue so encourage time with family. Your team members get recharged when they spend time with family. They need that time so provide it and require it if you need to.
One of the findings from an earlier link in this post was that people feel they have too many tasks to accomplish. 48% percent say they have too much work to do.
One of the traps of being a business owner or manager is having a big to-do list. You want to really grow the company and you want to take advantage of all the opportunities available.
But when you do that you’re adding too much weight onto the team’s back and it brings all the efforts down.
Imagine yourself getting dressed in the morning. You have 10 different tops that all have the potential to make you confident and appealing for the day. But you wouldn’t put on all 10. You choose one and move on and it works.
Limit the number of opportunities you chase down in your business. You’ll give the team the best odds of succeeding in the one or two things you choose and they won’t be as likely to feel like they have too much to work on.
Give Up Control
42% of workers say that they feel that at least some of the time they don’t have control over their tasks. Feeling like you don’t have control can lead to stress. It makes people feel helpless and over time that can build up and lead to a negative culture with negative results and unhealthy employees.
It can be difficult for entrepreneurs and managers to cede control. I’ve been there. But it’s good to let others take control of aspects of your business. People generally like responsibility. Not everyone will succeed, but usually people will surprise you if you give them a chance and let them own their tasks.
30% of workers say that their workplace is at least sometimes unpleasant or unsafe.
Safety is one of the basic human instincts and needs. We want to make our environment safe for ourselves and safe for those we care about. When that isn’t happening most of the time or all the time it adds stress to our lives.
If your workplace is unsafe even in a little way it can lead to big stress for your employees. It’s critical to make sure that things are as safe as possible for your team.
26% of workers say they rarely or never receive what they consider adequate recognition for a job well done.
This is a big one. I understand the reasoning behind this one. You figure you’re paying someone for a job well done and if they do a good job they’re simply doing their job.
But obviously there is discourse in the work world over this issue.
This can be a quick win for business owners and managers. It doesn’t take much effort to tell those on your team that they’re doing a good job.
I know that I can do better, but I still try to make an effort to let people on our team that they’re doing a good job and not just when it’s obvious.
It’s hard when you’re providing blog posts for companies. You can write a 600 word post and one word could be a little out of place. The client will point that out, it’ll be fixed and you move on.
It could be a great post, but what will stick with the writer is that one little error.
Good feedback can be just as or even better than negative feedback. When we get positive feedback on something we’re doing we’re more likely to do it again.
Take a few moments each day to tell a couple people on your team something you appreciate about what they’re doing. Tell one person that you always appreciate their timeliness. Tell another that you appreciate their organization skills. Tell another that you appreciate their ability to problem solve.
Finally, 30% of workers feel that management is not sufficiently sensitive to their needs. I read this one as being an issue of listening.
Sometimes your employees just want to be heard. They want to have a conversation about something that is bothering them. They want to learn the reason they need to do something a certain way. They want you to at least hear their idea for making something better.
As the leader of your company it’s important to prioritize time to listen to what your team members want to tell you.
Getting Feedback & Setting Up Indicators
It’s not always easy to realize when your team members are stressed. You have to pay attention to the signals that might not be obvious unless you know to look for them.
A first step, that can take some time to develop, is to allow employees to come to you with concerns. You have to encourage or reward this type of feedback.
Tell employees that you want to hear when they’re stressed or challenged. Tell them that you realize that low-stress equals high results and if a team member is stressed then they need to tell you so you can figure out a solution for the betterment of the company.
That will take time and it still might not always work so you need to look for other subtle indicators that a person is stressed. It might be a slacking in quality. The person might not be incapable, but rather something might be going on that you can help with. Maybe they feel unsafe or maybe they’re frustrated with a particular aspect of a task.
It is better for your company when people are not stressed. Now, it is a balancing act. A little stress can be helpful in our lives, but chronic and excessive stress are nearly always negative for all parties involved. It’s your job as the leader of your company to provide your team with ways to relieve their stress. Look at it as your responsibility to them and to the performance of your company.