6 things employers should do to decrease work stressNikitha Sattiraju
Corporate organisations these days are placing greater importance on ensuring a stress-free working environment. When employees are unable to handle mounting pressures from work, the overall productivity of the company declines. Hence, it is necessary for employers to look after the well-being of their workforce, not just because it would hurt business otherwise, but also because it is their responsibility. In fact, people are no longer looking just about higher, they want to join companies that promote friendly and healthy work surroundings as well.
So for the benefit of your employees and the organisation, here are six ways in which you can bring down stress levels in the office:
1.Communicate and build trust
Employees should be able to support and trust each other as well as their employers. Take the initiative to get to know your staff better, encourage them to share their ideas, views and problems without hesitation. It shouldn’t be fear but respect that dictates your employees’ relationship with you. Hold frequent social or ‘ice-breaker’ activities to create a more personal job setting. It isn’t necessary to restrict such programmes to the office. You can occasionally take the team out for dinners or field trips as well.
Secondly, keep the staff informed about leadership decisions (as far as you can) and address any doubts and queries they might have about the direction of the company and especially, their job security. Bottom-up communication is just as important as top-down, an approach startup companies are recognising more and more these days. Transparency goes a long way in building confidence in the organisation.
2.Pay attention to your employees
Don’t always wait for employees to come to you with their work troubles. If you pay enough attention to them, it will become easy to recognise when someone seems irritable, sad, angry or nervous. Talk to them individually and if they open up, reassure them and provide guidance to tackle the problem. Absenteeism can also be a sign of excessive stress, hence before reprimanding the employee, consider the possibility and allow them a chance to explain. It is also important to make employees feel valued and appreciated. Offering rewards, praising their work and involving them in important decisions will prove to be useful in this case.
3. Allow them work flexibility
Give your employees the chance to manage work time on their own. Strict office hours are a major cause of stress. Quite often, sleep is sacrificed for unreasonably long shifts. Additionally, they lose out on time for themselves and with their families. Provide options and let them choose the hours that would suit them best on regular work days, and allow work from home once in a while. It is a more result-oriented approach that makes employees comfortable thereby increasing the quality of work.
Do not overburden them with work either. There are only so many things a person can do before it starts taking a toll on them. Hence, delegate priority tasks to employees well in advance. If something needs to be done on short notice, put a team on it so one person doesn’t feel all the pressure to finish it.
4. Provide mental health assistance
Organising seminars and programmes is a good way to create awareness among employees about the importance of mental health. It can help break the stigma associated with mental illness and support them to discuss openly about their problem. An in-office professional like a therapist could be made available to employees should they wish to seek help. Most companies provide health benefits like insurance to employees and their dependents for physical ailments but including mental health coverage is equally necessary and shows that the employer recognises its significance.
5. Maintain comfortable workspaces
Do away with cold and dull colours like steel, white or grey, and make the walls brighter and warmer. Use good furniture, especially chairs, so that employees aren’t distracted by physical discomfort. Make room for recreational areas as well. A lounge with sofas and comfortable chairs or space for meditation will help employees relax and spend time with colleagues. If possible, set up a ping pong or pool table – they can be great stress busters in between work.
6. Encourage employees by setting an example
If you want to encourage your employees to handle stress better and consequently improve mental health, lead by example. Follow productive work practices like coming in early, prioritising tasks or conduct meetings outside to get employees moving. More importantly, manage your own stress levels through healthy habits so that you can remain composed and focused in office, especially when there is a lot of work pressure. It will reassure employees to remain calm themselves.
Reducing workplace stress is a two-way street. Employees can organise their schedules better or follow a healthier lifestyle but if employer decisions and actions are affecting them, handling stress effectively is out of their control. Constant pressure might get the job done, but people do quality work when they enjoy it the most. Hence, you have to give your best to employees if you expect the same from them.