This content was created for eBella Magazine by Kelly Townsend
Stress is alive and well in most workplaces. A decades-old study of 28,000 workers commissioned by St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance showed that poor teamwork and ineffective supervisors were the two most important contributors to employee stress, leading to poor performance, job burnout and health issues.
It’s doubtful that on-the-job frustrations have eased over the years. Companies are finding that job stress is a real issue that impacts the bottom-line. Stress makes people more vulnerable to illness, accidents and even injury. When employees are stressed, their behavior can be unpredictable and their performance greatly diminished.
Need more evidence? A Gallup poll of 201 U.S. companies revealed that 60 percent of all managers believe stress-related illness is pervasive among their workers, decreasing productivity equivalent to 16 sick days and costing $8,000 per employee, per year. Wow.
More Than Just Complaints
The reasons for worker stress are complicated and varied, ranging from employees not being free to talk to each other, unresolved conflict between workers and bureaucratic red tape. For some employees, not having enough control over the work they do can lead to stress and frustration. And in this time of cutbacks and financial shortages, inadequate staffing, budgets and benefit reductions can lead to tension. Without open communication by managers and even praise for a job well done, employees can perceive their bosses as being unsupportive.
So how can you make a difference right now with your workers?
Consider creating an environment that allows for a balance between work and personal life. Many employers think that if they’re flexible in helping employees in this way, they’ll create a ‘county club’ atmosphere and workers will be less productive. Studies actually prove that just the opposite is true. Showing some flexibility will go along way in minimizing your employees’ stress and increase job performance.
Training managers to have better communication skills with employees is also important. They should have a real interest in helping the workers they supervise accomplish their work and professional goals. Creating a quality mentoring program, as well as investing in coaching, can make a big difference in boosting open and honest communication lines between managers and the people they supervise.
Finally, have honor and respect when you communicate with your staff, and speak with them often. In my experience, this is the most difficult change to make for bosses and employees. Many times, an employee won’t communicate what they’re dealing with to a supervisor because they’re afraid they’ll lose their job. Meanwhile, the supervisor may have a preconceived opinion of an employee that does not allow for open and honest communication. It’s a vicious cycle that often leaves workers stuck and stressed out.
When bosses let workers know they care for them, it goes a long way in empowering and enabling them to be the best they can be. Embrace the opportunity to reduce stress so it doesn’t take over your life and your workplace. It is too costly for you, your business and your workers’ well being.