It’s no secret that with time, professional lives have become increasingly demanding and complex. The ‘24X7-always-on’ lifestyle, along with mounting work pressure, often results in extreme stress, burnout, and anxiety in employees. This directly affects their productivity and engagement. In fact, according to a survey by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted in collaboration with National Public Radio and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 44 percent respondents say their job affects their overall health.
Employee burnout is becoming a huge problem globally. Team leaders and managers must, therefore, work towards managing stress levels at the workplace, even if it is not included in their KRA (Key Reporting Areas). This is because happy employees tend to be more productive and translate into happier clients and better ROI.
Here are five ways in which team leaders and managers can manage stress among employees at the workplace:
Stress is Contagious, But So Is Wellbeing
A report by Gallup that surveyed 105 teams and 1,740 individuals over three six-month intervals found that “Individuals with thriving wellbeing in the first measurement period were 20% more likely to have thriving team members six months later.” This means that the wellbeing factor is highly contagious.
Individuals are likely to be influenced by the wellbeing of their team and supervisors. Promote activities that lead to wellbeing, practice them yourself and encourage your team members to practice them as well. Activities such as a 10-minute walk outside the office, playing indoor games, a quick sprint down the stairs, or taking time out for exercising can boost mood of the employees and also act as a motivating factor. Appoint workplace therapists who can help employees manage stress and put helpful employee assistance programs in place.
Don’t Encourage Working Overtime
Team leaders and managers unknowingly add to the team’s stress. Checking the work progress every few minutes or forcing team members to work after-hours even when the work is proceeding according to the deadline can add to employees’ woes. Expecting an immediate response to late night emails or discussing a new project just before employees are preparing to call it a day also adds to the stress.
The report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development indicates that employees around the world spend an average of 34 to 48 hours at work each week, and many of them engage in work-related activities even after working hours. Employees need time to unwind and recover from the day’s work. Once they are out of the office premises, allow them to enjoy their personal lives. Do not interrupt unless absolutely necessary. If you expect your employees to enter the office on time, encourage them to leave on time, unless there is an emergency (but remember emergencies do not occur every day).
Multitasking – A Big No-No
Research shows that multitasking drains the energy reserves in the brain. Georgetown Professor Cal Newport writes in his book, ‘Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World’, “bouncing around from task to task or multitasking, deteriorates the muscle allowing you to focus.” Therefore, if you are encouraging your employees to multitask, you are actually encouraging low-quality work.
Every time a person is interrupted from a task, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds for him/her to regain focus, says Gloria Mark, professor in the department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Encourage your employees to stay away from their mobile phones and tablets when focussing on a project. Once the work has been defined and goals have been set, team leaders must allow team members to work on the project without interruptions. However, a short-break (ideally 15 to 20 minutes long) recharges the mind and allows employees to focus better. If multi-tasking is necessary, as isin the case of many start-ups and small businesses, encourage your team members to complete one task and then move on to the next.
Listen to Your Employees
The best way to ward off stress from the workplace is to show that you care. The best way to do this is by making time to listen to your employees. Listen to their problems and expectations, and offer appropriate solutions. If your employees feel that you care for them, they will always reciprocate by being more productive and help you take your business to the next level.
Offer Flexible Work Environment
Retaining productive employees is crucial for organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) new Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, and the average time taken to fill a position is 42 days.
If you fail to retain an employee, you can end up losing thousands of dollars due to lost work and in finding as well as training a new employee. Offering good pay hikes is one way to retain employees, but companies that cannot afford to pay high salaries can consider providing a flexible working environment to help employees beat stress.
This means allowing your employees to work from home on certain days or letting them finish their work and leave office early if they have kids to look after. Providing a flexible work environment means employees can work with more freedom while ensuring the deadlines are met. By offering flexibility, you can ensure higher efficiency, better productivity and cost-saving.
Time is changing and work is becoming more demanding. Many employees get stressed and experience burnout quickly. However, by helping employees manage stress, you can ensure better productivity. Because happy employees mean better results and satisfied clients, you must do everything to keep your workforce happy.
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About the author
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of The 20 Media, a content marketing agency specializing in content & data-driven SEO and PRmention, a digital PR agency. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Digital PR. Pratik has spoken at 80th Annual Conference of Florida Public Relations Association, Accounting & Finance Show, Singapore, NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, SEMrush Meetup, MICA, IIT-Roorkee and other major events. As a passionate SEO & content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory and Inc42 to name a few.