Impart freedom and empathy to curb workplace stress
October 18, 2011
High stress levels can have an adverse effect on every aspect of running a business. More importantly, the bad attitudes that can arise from excessive pressure are contagious and can find themselves drifting among other employees as well.
Without a doubt, HR managers and business owners need to curb workplace stress - from the top executive to the lowliest new hire. For that matter, managers need to promote a healthy work-life balance, as that is the key to reducing stress to a manageable or acceptable level.
"Finding the right work/life balance and giving back to the community are top priorities," BusinessNewsDaily quotes USBancorp as reporting in a recent survey.
While stress levels need to be controlled across all departments and professional levels, it's on the managers and executives to influence company culture through their own handling of work-related stress. Said another way, managers need to lead by example.
"Without organization and good management, the compressed time schedules associated with modern business can cause stress and make extraordinary demands on people," the Small Business Administration reports. "An effective management structure can reduce stress and channel the productive capacity of employees into business growth and profits."
Your first priority should be to engage employees directly. If you sense they are falling victim to work-related pressures and wider market conditions, address it directly. Hold staff meetings or one-on-one meetings and show that you understand their predicament. Express empathy and encourage feedback on how the workplace can be improved.
One of the top reasons employees feel stress is that they worry they'll lose their job, some of their income (if they are paid on commission) or will be reprimanded by a superior. Managers can address this by instilling greater job security among top performers and by adopting a compassionate management style. You may be shocked how much attitudes improve by tackling employees' fear of their boss.
People also tend to become stressed when they feel like things are out of their hands. Address this allocating new freedoms, and accompany new responsibilities with greater control. While freedom usually entails greater responsibility, it enhances one's ability to control their surroundings and, hence, their stress levels.
"If you're in your own business, you'll feel you have control over how you're going to do it," Rosalie Moscoe, owner of HealthinHarmony, told BusinessNewsDaily, "and that's the biggest factor in reducing stress."