Ten top tips for employers to reduce organisational stress
Stress can prove a major headache for firms, leading to misunderstandings and getting in the way of productivity. Here we advise employers how to reduce stress in the workplace.
1. Adopt the attitude that stress is not a weakness
Nobody’s perfect, we all have too much pressure from time to time, and stress can affect anyone given an accumulation of circumstances. Foster the mindset that it isn’t a weakness to seek help if you are not coping – it’s strength to admit it and do something about it. Promote this as a developmental issue. Handling stress is a proactive intervention to prevent ill health in your employees and your organisation.
2. Ensure you are not suffering from stress yourself
A stressed manager has a ‘knock-on effect’ throughout the organisation. Dealing with your own stress will prevent your staff from suffering, and results in a more relaxed and productive atmosphere. If you feel stressed, inform your employer in writing and seek support.
3. Analyse your management style and behaviour
Ask yourself (honestly) if this is causing any stress. Good management is the best proactive way of reducing organisational stress. A good manager:
- Ensures a realistic understanding of the workload and time it should take
- Sets individual work objectives and targets, and consults and discusses before setting these
- Gives clear, effective instructions
- Makes sure he/she defines roles and tasks adequately – and discusses priorities
- In times of high workload, prepares employees ahead
- Varies work where possible, and provides opportunities for individuals to influence the way they do their jobs
- Delegates effectively, and not just the boring bits
- Ensures staff have adequate Training or Coaching to do a good job
- Gives fast feedback (both positive and negative), and constructive criticism where necessary
- Is approachable. Admits to weaknesses and takes responsibility for own mistakes
Which of these could you improve upon?
4. Ensure the working environment is suitable
They should make sure that there is not too much noise or overcrowding, for example. A poor working environment can cause employees a great deal of stress. While this is sometimes impossible to change completely, many small things can be done to improve the situation.
5. Help your staff to cope with change – no matter how big or how small
Before introducing a change, listen to the views of your staff. What will it be like for them?
Where possible, update employees on any changes taking place, and explain the reasons for them. Identify those who resist change and help them to accept it. Listen to doubts and fears; explain, coach, boost self-esteem. Check how things are progressing during and after the change.
6. Improve communication
Where possible, keep employees informed of all changes and major decisions. Listen to your staff and hear what they are saying.
Talk to your staff informally and regularly. It will be easier for them to come to you or for you to approach them if there’s a problem.
Observe your staff – you’ll learn a lot from watching. A good manager will have excellent ‘listening’ skills.
7. Think of yourself in your employees’ shoes
What causes your staff stress may be healthy pressure to you, so do not belittle it. Just because it isn’t a problem for you does not mean it isn’t a problem for them. Remember, they might cope easily with issues that cause you stress.
8. Do regular, informal risk assessments of your staff to check nobody is subjected to work-related stress
No one is suggesting that you ‘micro-manage’ or spy on your employees, but do keep an eye on them from a welfare viewpoint. Monitor absence management statistics. Monitor leaver statistics. Review them regularly – don’t simply file them away. Consider, do you have absence within your team that is due to work-related-stress?.
If you do, seek support immediately. If you would like to know how to calculate the % turnover and leaver statistics within your team; call 01793 338888 for a simple calculation formula.
Where a noticeable and negative change occurs, seek support from your line management as a matter of priority. The risks to the organisation of ‘failing to take action’ could be significant. Remember, every problem has a solution.
9. Encourage your staff to attend a personal stress management course or provide them with tips to help themselves
“You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink”. If your staff refuse support offered to them, you cannot force the issue. You can, however, document the fact that support has been offered. Keep a file note, dated and signed, detailing the circumstances and keep it on the employee’s personnel file.
Proactively promote positive initiatives. Praise them, where praise is due. Have an open door policy and encourage them to approach you with any concerns or request for support/training. Ensure you have a training budget ‘per head’ rather than per department – to ensure no one is left out.
Where you have a positive member on the team, encourage them to speak to the others about their own experience and the benefits they have discovered in attending courses.
10. Create an overall environment that promotes well-being
Remember that relaxed and happy employees will work more effectively, thus increasing their own, and the organisation’s performance and productivity.
Please note: This article was written by an external author. Any opinions or advice shared by the author are their own and not indicative of any official advice or opinions of Thomson Local or its employees.
- Christine Pratt
- Employer Advice
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