According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 40% of workers reported that their job was “very or extremely stressful,” with another 25% saying that their job was their single biggest cause of stress. Experiencing workplace stress may be a part of life, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming.
It’s helpful to first understand what causes stress at work. These stress points will obviously vary across companies and industries, but some of the most common include increased workload, fear of downsizing, issues with coworkers, and longer work hours. Prolonged stress at work can lead to serious health problems, such as increased rate of heart attacks, hypertension, insomnia, depression and anxiety. All of these factors make it important to find healthy and effective ways to cope with workplace stress.
Here are a few simple ways to manage stress at work, both as an employee and as a team leader.
Make wellness a priority.
As an employer, offering a few simple perks can drastically help improve employee morale. Stock the kitchen with healthy snacks, or bring in the occasional catered lunch. Partner with a local gym or yoga studio to offer employees discounted memberships. If you have a larger budget, gift your employees with wearable fitness devices and encourage them to be as active as they can.
Avoid irregular schedules.
Whether you’re operating during standard business hours or not, giving your employees a consistent schedule they can rely on will do wonders for their work-life balance. If your employees work hourly shifts, this means keeping them the same shifts as often as possible instead of changing their schedule week to week. If your employees are salaried or work during standard business hours, this means doing all you can to avoid asking them to work late nights or weekends.
Address conflicts directly.
Ongoing issues with coworkers is one of the biggest causes of workplace stress. Addressing these issues in a timely and appropriate manner is important, as this kind of stress could lead to extreme reactions like violence in the workplace. Use your conflict management skills to find productive solutions. If necessary, don’t be afraid to bring in a professional mediator or therapist to help resolve the issues.
Encourage a positive environment.
Whether you’re the person in charge or the low man on the totem, forming positive relationships with your coworkers is important. Taking simple actions like complimenting someone’s performance, being a sympathetic ear, or offering to help someone who needs it will make a huge difference in the level of stress in your workplace.
No matter what kind of work you do, workplace stress is an unfortunate and common part of life. The reality is that workplace stress is detrimental for employers and employees, and if left unchecked can lead to serious health issues. Do what you can to lighten up your workplace, and remember, we’re all in this together.
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