On-the-job stress is one of the biggest issues employees and their employers have to face. While some stress at work is expected and possibly even a good thing, too much can have many negative effects – both on workers and businesses. Overly stressful working conditions are associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and a higher likelihood of employee turnover. That’s not even including the physical and emotional ailments that can impact an employee.
The following are a few early warning signs of job stress that if not addressed can build up to bigger problems in the future:
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short temper
- Upset stomach
- Job dissatisfaction
- Low morale
What can your company do to help alleviate and reduce workplace stress? Studies show that policies benefiting worker health also benefit productivity and the overall success of the company. If employees are less stressed, they can focus more on doing better work and accomplishing their goals. The following approaches can help you positively influence your employees’ stress, health, and productivity.
1) LOOK AT JOB CONDITIONS THAT MAY LEAD TO STRESS
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these job conditions may cause stress at the workplace:
- Design of Tasks: Heavy workloads, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours, shift work, or hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control. Crafting accurate job descriptions can help both managers and their team members know what is expected.
- Management Style: Lack of participation by workers in decision making, poor communication in the organization, or lack of family-friendly policies.
- Interpersonal Relationships: Poor social environment, or lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors.
- Work Roles: Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility, or too many “hats to wear.”
- Career Concerns: Job insecurity, or lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion. Performance reviews can be a great way to help in this area (if your review process meets today’s standards).
- Environmental Conditions: Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions, such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.
2) OFFER A VALUABLE EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (EAP) RESOURCE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide individual counseling to employees with both work and personal problems. These can include unlimited telephonic consultations with licensed clinicians for financial and legal services, grief counseling, and day-to-day support for full-time employees and anyone in their household.
EAPs are starting to be viewed as an essential employee benefit perk, with more and more companies – both large and small – offering programs to their employees. These programs offer a few benefits to employers, too. Not only do they help keep employees happy and healthy, but they are perks that can be marketed during the recruiting process. Happy, productive, and engaged employees combined with a strong benefits offering that attracts top talent are necessary for business growth.
3) BE A “HEALTHY” ORGANIZATION
Not surprisingly, recent studies of so-called healthy organizations suggest that policies benefiting worker health also benefit the bottom line. A healthy organization is defined as one that has low rates of illness, injury, and disability in its workforce — and is also competitive in the marketplace.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health research has identified organizational characteristics associated with both healthy, low-stress work and high levels of productivity. These characteristics include:
- Employees are recognized for good performance
- Career development opportunities are available
- The company culture values the individual worker
- Management actions uphold company values
LESS STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE EQUALS HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, AND MORE PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYEES
Everyone at some point will feel stress at work. It’s part of having a job, and a limited anount of stress poses little risk to employees. But when stress levels are allowed to escalate over time, your workers and business will be negatively impacted. This is why having tools and procedures in place to address employee concerns is extremely important.
By keeping your employees mentally and physically happy, not only will morale, job satisfaction, and employee engagement increase, but so will productivity. Companies that proactively address workplace stress and assist their employees in dealing with it will see the benefits to their bottom-line.
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