The less stress, the more success. It’s that simple, and yet statistics show it’s also incredibly difficult for businesses to achieve. The American Institute of Stress reports that job stress is the biggest source of stress for Americans, and outcomes include heart attack, hypertension and worse. 90% of Americans report some stress on the job, and 40% report extreme stress. On the other side of the border, one in four Canadians cite stress as the reason for leaving their job. If you run a business, managing stress matters.
Today (Wednesday, November 7) marks National Stress Awareness Day, and it feels like there’s no better time than now to dive into how you can reduce stress in your own workplace. Don’t get me wrong - we can’t solve this problem overnight. But with sure-footed baby steps in the right direction, we’ll be on our way.
How well does your team communicate with one another? If there’s one thing a degree in Communication taught me, it’s the heavy weight that miscommunication has on our interactions with others.
Having a lack of communication, or struggling with miscommunication, can lead to a variety of repercussions all of which include high amounts of stress. Think about it this way. Miscommunication leads to mistakes. You can’t possibly carry out your processes without knowing the full scope of what you’re trying to accomplish, and doing so will only lead to problems.
Not only does communication in the workplace need to be clear, but it needs to be open, comfortable, and acceptable. Whether it’s about an on-going project, or the ability to handle a given workload, if your employees are under stress and the thought of talking about it with a colleague or boss only causes more stress, then how healthy is your work environment?
Consider how you can make the flow of communication stronger in your own office. Whether that involves leveraging internal social technologies like Slack, having morning stand-ups to discuss current pain points, or creating one-on-one meetings with employees to touch-in. If you’re not sure where communication is struggling, have a meeting with your staff to find out.
Set clear goals
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a heavy workload. In fact, that workload is often the front-runner for creating stress in the workplace. So make sure you and your staff are working together to set clear goals and expectations that help facilitate prioritization.
No, we can’t get through a blog post without talking about documentation - it’s in our blood. But in all seriousness, when you document your overall company goals, department goals, and individual goals, and have it easily accessible for your staff, everyone becomes accountable for their own actions with a clear understanding of their expectations.
Sometimes the workload gets heavy. That’s inevitable. But if your goals aren’t clear it’s far easier to get caught up in the stress of looming tasks than it is to properly deal with them.
Create a positive employee environment
Listen to your staff
Have you ever asked your employees what they need to be able to do their job better, more efficiently, and with less stress? Maybe not everything on their list will be achievable right away, but if your employees don’t have what they need to do their job the best that they can be doing it, you’re missing out an opportunity for growth.
Get out of the office
When was the last time your team did something outside of the office? When was the last time you discussed something that didn’t revolve around the latest ticket? You spend so much of your time with colleagues, so prioritize fostering an enjoyable work atmosphere by setting aside time to connect outside of your day to day tasks. Everyone is busy, so start by creating quarterly outings where you and your staff can go and celebrate your successes and kick back a bit.
When everyone’s working hard to reach the goals set out for them, it goes without saying that recognition is crucial. Celebrate everyone’s achievements, because creating an environment where everyone feels appreciated for the work they’re accomplishing is going to go a long way to increase their motivation to keep succeeding.
Can you improve your business processes?
Workplace stress can arise in a lot of different ways, whether it stems from social or environmental factors, or simply how you go about accomplishing your everyday business processes. If there’s friction in these processes, there’s bound to be stress too. Think of how your processes can be smoother, more efficient, and more streamlined, and all of your employees are sure to benefit. It should come as no surprise that we’re big believers in the following:
Can documentation reduce stress? That’s a no-brainer in more ways than one. The constant search for information itself is a stressor, and having good documentation reduces that completely. Whether it’s internal processes or client information, the more you have documented the less stress you’ll have accessing that information and carrying out tasks.
Stressed about not having enough time? Automation is all about saving you time. If you can reduce the number of mundane tasks to complete by leveraging automation, you and your team have more time to get the rest of the work done.
The harsh reality is that there’s an endless list of workplace stressors we could get into which only highlight that a day like National Stress Awareness day certainly shouldn’t be limited to 24 hours. So extend it, because there are also just as many solutions as there are stressors. Make stress awareness a consistent part of the day-to-day culture at your company, and the benefits are bound to ripple throughout it.