It follows then, that if we can help employees to manage stress at work this will impact positively on their activities outside work too, which results in a happier, more productive workforce.
As you’d expect, men and women deal with stress differently. The first step towards easing stress at work is being able to identify when your employees are experiencing pressure.
It is unlikely that male colleagues will openly admit that their workload is too much, that they’re experiencing conflicting deadlines or that they’re having trouble with other colleagues. Cues to look out for would be if a male colleague starts to stay away from others; if they avoid certain situations – such as excuse themselves from meetings; or if they appear to anger more easily than before.
There are a number of stress busting techniques that can be adapted to use at work. These include deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, or meditation.
There are also a few practical exercises that employers can introduce to the workplace that help employees keep stress at bay.
Schedule settingTaking time at the beginning of the week to review to-do lists is time well spent. Stress often comes from feeling overwhelmed and this starts when we have lots of tasks and obligations rolling around our minds without a place to settle. Encourage colleagues and team members to be realistic about what can be achieved in the work hours available.
Focus on what mattersBeing realistic invariably means prioritising. We can’t do everything at once and trying to over-deliver usually impacts on the quality of our work. Employees need to be clear about the tasks that have to be done that week and the tasks that should be completed if time allows. Focussing on priority tasks helps people regain control, which reduces stress levels.
It’s good to talkIt can be difficult to share frustrations and anxiety at work with colleagues but the benefits of offloading problems onto someone else are well documented. If employees don’t have access to an independent listening or advice service, encourage them to call on their personal support network. A problem shared is a problem halved and even a two minute call can help put things in perspective.
Take fiveIs the habit of working through lunch and tea breaks prevalent in your organisation? Studies show that rather than help us achieve more, a lack of regular breaks impacts on productivity. Just five minutes break is all we need to reset our body and reduce anxiety. Seriously, is anybody so indispensable that they can’t take five? Encourage colleagues to use their breaks as time to focus their thoughts, take in their surroundings or enjoy a bite to eat. Productivity is likely to improve and stress levels plummet as a result.
Just small changes to the way we approach our work can make a massive impact on our ability to deal with stress. The trick is finding out what works in your organisation and making it part of the work routine, where possible.
Find out more about mindfulness at work and how it can help reduce stress >