Have you stress tested your workplace?

International Stress Awareness Week is coming up and it’s got me thinking. Stress is normal and healthy right? It’s what we feel when a situation is hard to handle, be it a good or bad situation. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But it goes beyond the normal when it’s a regularly occurring thing, and that’s when it’s not healthy! It becomes a problem when the stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.

We know that too much stress can cause mental health problems, heart problems, high blood pressure and a myriad of other health problems that will ultimately cause sickness absence, reduced productivity and poor attrition in the workplace. It is a self-feeding problem.

And given that stress accounts for nearly 40% of all work-related illness (just wow), quite frankly regardless of the cause, you need to have a kit bag of tools to manage and deal with stress in your workplace.

First and foremost, you need to ensure you are managing and communicating with your people fairly and effectively. Here are my 5 ‘must do’s’ of management best practice to help you reduce stress in your workplace:

• Provide staff with clear and measurable work and task objectives
• Review objectives and task progress with regular 1:1’s
• Ensure staff have the skills and training they need in order to fulfil their job
• Support your staff with an open door policy that encourages them to talk to you about issues that are troubling them – be approachable
• Hold regular team communication meetings, and don’t just tell them what’s going on in your team, tell than what’s going on in the business as a whole.

You can implement some meaty pro-active stress busting measures into your workplace. Given that 35% of employees view support in this area as a staff benefit, there can be serious traction to stress management schemes. Companies are increasingly realising that stress is a thief of productivity and are putting creative measures in place to stamp it out. Luckily, most of them can be low cost and bring about a great deal of return in employee happiness and productivity. The result is a more harmonious, high-functioning, happier workplace.. I have to admit that my hands down favourites are two super simples cost free schemes I came across recently: One which encourages its staff to diary meetings as ‘walking meetings’ whenever possible – what a brilliantly simple, cost free way to encourage exercise, fresh air and a new perspective on thinking! Secondly, Etsy, who encourage staff to bring their pets to work – because doggy mums and dads who are able to bring their pet to work with them report greater job satisfaction and lower stress. I love it!

If you want to carry on the conversation, why not give me a call or drop me a line?