Life can be stressful, and that goes doubly so when you’re on the job. Talking with clients, meeting deadlines, and coordinating with uncooperative team members can all quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which often leads to a drop in productivity and workplace morale. Even more troubling, is the negative impact all that stress can have on an employee’s physical and mental health.
The Effects of Stress
Medical research has found a clear connection between stress and a multitude of negative health effects. Negative health effects from stress can be as small as headaches, to as big as panic attacks, depression, heart problems, and diabetes, just to name a few. In one study, employees who worked longer shifts were found to be more likely to suffer from hypertension, experience an accident on the job, make mistakes at work, and engage in unhealthy behavior like smoking.
Reducing Stress in the Workplace
While it’s impossible to have a completely stress-free workplace, there are steps that businesses can take to help relieve stress on their employees, making their lives healthier while also improving their performance. Some of these steps include:
- Make employees feel appreciated – One of the leading causes of stress at work is the feeling among employees that they are unappreciated, or that they are being treated unfairly. Employees who feel that their workplace is a “just” one – one where their issues are heard, and where employees are dealt with fairly – are much less likely to suffer the negative health effects associated with stress. Being recognized for going above and beyond scope of responsibilities, for hitting challenging deadlines, and for achieving goals goes a long way toward making an employee and their teams feel like they and their work matter.
Be responsive to employee needs – When stress starts to affect an employee’s health and/or work performance, managers should encourage and lead employees in stress relief activities and stepping away from their desks. Activities that help relieve workplace stress include a 15-minute walk, healthy snacks, laughter, and giving employees the time and space to stretch or meditate.