You often hear that it’s tough at the top. There’s more pressure to produce results and if something goes awry, you’re to blame. That may be true, but if you’ve ever been at the bottom of the rung (and most everyone has) then you know about employee stress all too well. In fact, a recent study by Harvard’s Kennedy School Professor Jennifer Lerner and associates found that bosses have less stress than those under them. This may be surprising to some, but common knowledge to others. After all, it’s the bosses that have the most control of their schedules and tasks. So as employers, what are some simple things we can do to relieve some of the employee stress that may be rampant in the office?
The office can be a very stressful place. There are always goals to be met and work that has to be done. On top of that, if you have successfully created a diverse atmosphere in your workplace then there are going to be many different people interacting with each other. Essentially, the office has the potential to be one of the most stressful places in our day to day lives. So let’s take a look at 5 things you can do to make your office more relaxed and relieve employee stress.
Keep an Organized, Clean Space
Sure, there will be some days where the office is a mess. Especially if you are in the process of adding employees on or moving work spaces around. The office shouldn’t be disheveled every day though. Piles of empty boxes along the wall, a dirty bathroom and heaping garbage cans can easily increase employee stress levels. Stressed employees do not usually make productive employees. Therefore, keep a neat and tidy office and your employees will likely be more relaxed.
You have a team of hardworking employees that always meet their deadlines. That’s great! But are they skipping lunch or their breaks in order to meet your demands? This is a fast track to employee stress. As the employer or manager, be sure that you are encouraging your employees to take their breaks. Working hard is great, but burnout leads to decreased productivity levels and very unhappy employees. Are you the type that questions where your employees were if their phone went unanswered? Your employees cannot be chained to their desk or chained to their phone either. Be sure you are encouraging your employees to take breaks and their stress levels will be kept low and their productivity levels high.
A while back Spark Hire discussed how you can listen your way to a better company culture. Listening to your employees can do wonders. That means actually listening to them and understanding what they are saying- not just nodding your head and hearing them. Any employer can hear, but it takes a good one to actually listen. If you are attuned to your employees and listen to what they have to say then chances are you will have a stronger, more trusting relationship. Not being able to trust your employer can certainly give way to large amounts of stress. Listen your way to a stress-free work environment for you and your employees.
Etch Out Time for Fun
This isn’t to say that at 4 p.m. everyone in the office should go outside for 20 minutes of soccer or frisbee, but employees that can have fun and joke around likely aren’t experiencing high levels of stress everyday. When you establish a fun atmosphere and a sturdy company culture, your employees will be happier and more comfortable. If your company culture is sterile and all employees are expected to simply get their work done and that’s it, that may be fine. However you need to make sure you are hiring workers that fit that company culture. That is why hiring for fit is so important. When you screen candidates using video interviews, you can hire much faster for fit and weed out those that don’t fit into your company culture. That way you decrease employee stress- and increase productivity.
Reprimand in Private
If you’re the type that the calls your employees out on their mistakes in front of everyone else, chances are you are managing a highly stressful office. When you reprimand your employees or team members in public for everyone to see, no one is ever going to want to make a mistake for fear of being embarrassed and ridiculed in front of everyone. This can lead to large amounts of stress among your employees. To prevent unnecessary stress-inducers, talk to your employees about their mistakes or missteps one-on-one in private. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes here and there. What matters is how you choose to deal with those mistakes. Keep it private and keep the employee stress levels down in the office.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by topgold