According to the World Health Organization (WHO), workplace stress costs U.S. businesses upwards of $300 billion per year. In fact, the stress of the American worker has gotten so bad the WHO has labeled it the “health epidemic of the 21st Century.” Workplace stress can negatively impact productivity, employee engagement, absenteeism, illness and retention. Here are some strategies you can use to help your team overcome stress to work more productively.
Focus on Strengths
Spend time examining the tasks assigned to each team member. Are people working to their strengths? Talk to each person about their workload to see if you can rearrange a few things so team members are working on things that not only excite them, but they can do well.
Keep It Positive
Laughter, joy and amusement are most effective stress relievers, so allow for some levity throughout the day. Work is serious business; encourage your team to build relationships where they can joke around with each other and turn stressful situations into something they can all laugh about later. If people can have fun at work, they will be more engaged in what they are doing and will ultimately be more happy and productive.
Nothing stresses someone out like emails coming in at 10:00 p.m. or receiving work calls while they are on vacation. While you cannot eliminate unexpected “fires” that need immediate attention, you can come up with ways to provide your employees with work-life balance. Develop a rotating on-call program and make sure unless it is a true emergency, only the person on call is the one fielding after-hours issues. When an employee goes on vacation, assign someone to handle their work while they are away. Have the vacationer put up an Out of Office message stating they are away and directing inquirers to their backup. Providing your employees with the space to enjoy their time away from work allows them to recharge their batteries and experience better work-life balance.
Keep Workloads in Check
There are always ebbs and flows when it comes to workload, but it is important to keep an eye on things when demand is high. Stress can multiply when people have too much work to do and not enough time to get it done. During these periods of high demand, it is often worthwhile to bring on contract and consulting staff to help reduce or eliminate overtime and keep workloads in check.
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