5 Ways to Help Your Employees Tackle Workplace Stress

Stress is pervasive in the American workplace. 61% of U.S. professionals say they feel like they are burning out, and high stress means employees are three times more likely to look for another job. Improving employees’ mental health has been a key goal for managers for quite some time, and helping them to manage stress is a part of that.  

Being a manager means walking a tightrope when it comes to reducing stress for your employees. Work, by its nature, is stressful - assigning more of it will mean more stress. However, as a manager, you also have the power to minimize stress and the toll it takes on your team.

1. Reducing Stress Through Roadblock Elimination

Everyone is less stressed when they have clear goals and deliverables. The problem is that things happen every day that derail even the most organized and well-distributed workload. Identifying current issues and planning for future roadblocks will keep these sources of high-test stress to a minimum for your staff. We have a complete guide to eliminating roadblocks you can follow right here. Big picture, as a manager, part of your job is to lessen or help break down those roadblocks so employees can get their work done.

2. Keep Work to Working Hours by Minimizing Last Minute Requests

Recovery from stress is key to reducing it in the first place, and your employees need their off time to do it. If something has to be done right away, don’t pass it off to your people to do in their off time - management should try to shoulder the burden of these requests where they have the skill set to do so. Occasional “pull out the stops” work requests are acceptable, but if you’re doing it to your staff more than once a quarter, there’s a systemic problem.

Managing that problem comes back to the organization and managing client and stakeholder expectations. Often, last-minute requestors are highly disorganized, so it is up to you to proactively organize them. That can look like scheduling set hours per week to work on their projects, which can force them to have requests submitted ahead of time for those hours. It could look like having regular standup meetings with them to ensure that expectations are being met. Whatever it looks like, setting clear boundaries and deadlines should be the goal.

3. Make Employee Perks High-Effort Recovery Activities

According to the Harvard Business Review, we recover best from stress when we engage in specific “recovery activities” to help. Paradoxically, high-effort recovery activities do more to help recover from stress than low-effort ones. A high-effort recovery activity can be something like a brisk workout or a “mastery” activity such as learning a new language or skill. Giving employees the time to participate in these activities can be a perk handed out to employees for good performance. Find out if there is something new they want to learn and pay for the training, or simply give them time to hit the gym or engage in a high-impact fitness activity during the work day.

4. Keep a Lifeline Available for Stressed-Out Employees

If you’ve optimized your workplace for success, you’re probably already doing regular one-on-ones with your team and are managing workloads with project management tools. If you’re using an employee productivity monitoring solution like Prodoscore, you can easily see who is “maxed out” on their workload, allowing you to divert new tasks to staff who are less loaded up. 

However, even the best tech tools can’t tell when an employee is feeling burned out. They may not be showing up as overworked on your dashboards, but they may feel like they are at the end of their rope for reasons they are reluctant to speak about. Try to end your one-on-one discussions with direct questions about the employee’s stress levels and ask if there is anything you can do to help them. Don’t forget to reward the good and make sure to tell people who are going above and beyond that you appreciate them. Simple appreciation goes further than you think.

5. Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

People-first managers are in danger of putting the wellbeing of their teams before their own when they should be treated equally. Your success as a manager depends on making sure you are emotionally and mentally ready to handle whatever the day will throw at you. 

While traveling, you’ve probably noticed a flight attendant’s message to parents to put on their oxygen masks before putting their child’s oxygen mask on. This is applicable to so many situations, including being a manager. If your own stress level is high, your direct reports will notice, and it will affect the productivity of your team. Have a look at some of these stress recovery tips and make sure you are taking time and holding space for yourself.

Getting on top of staff stress levels will help you avoid attrition, increase productivity, and improve company culture. As more employees leave the workforce, whether through attrition or retirement, there is going to be more work for those who are left. Being proactive about removing common stressors from the workplace is the best thing you can do as a manager. 

Want to take the stress out of managing workloads? Book a demo with us to dive into how Prodoscore can help you gain valuable insights into your team’s workday.

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