IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR WORK BECOME COMING HOME FROM IT?
As a business or a large company who employs over a thousand people, one of your main concerns should be creating a working environment which is inclusive, where everyone feels comfortable and there is no unhealthy competition.
Even as an employee, if you are doing a job that you are passionate about, one of your concerns would be the work environment and the people that you are working with.
SIGNS THAT EMPLOYEES ARE EXPERIENCING STRESS AT WORK:
- Unfriendly competition: grasp the level of competition and the inter-personal relationships between employees. Office politics can lead to people trying to sabotage other peoples work, brown nosing the managers to gain promotions, all indicate an unwelcomed competitive spirit which may initially just seem as employees working hard, but in the long run is can contribute to be a major stress factor.
- Absenteeism and sick leaves: more frequent leaves from work due to illness is a strong indication that your employees are facing stress at the work place. It could be physical stress factors such as poor posture, lack of sleep or mental stress such as pressure from upper management or poor interpersonal relations.
- High employee turnover rates: If people are quitting shortly after being hired, you must re-evaluate your management and leadership, because clearly something is going wrong at your end!
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO REDUCE STRESS AT WORK:
As a company
- Ergonomic consideration: Physical stressors are usually caused due to poor postures, inappropriate positioning or movement of hands/legs, chairs being non-adjustable and ergonomically not suitable for all demographics. Neck problems, cumulative trauma disorders or eye strain becomes inevitable. Most people are unaware of how to correctly adjust their chair to a height appropriate for them. As a company, in order to minimize time lost from work due to physical sickness/injury, you can hire a service that provides training programmes to teach workers correct postures, using adjustable seating, maintaining proper hand positions while using the keyboard /mouse (example: wrist cushion, lumbar support for chair, keeping screen at eye level to avoid neck strain etc.) Most employees remain unaware of how these factors affect their body and worsen over time till they provoke serious medical issues.
- Employee retention: Due to westernization of the work ethic or ‘hustle culture’ as we call it now, your employees feel obsessed with productivity and toiling all the time. Although, subsequently, it may seem like they are very hard working, in the long run it will cause extreme levels of stress and inculcate unhealthy behaviours (manipulating others at work, cutting corners, using connections to get promotions etc.) This is because they constantly feel dispensable and undervalued. As a company it is your responsibility to create boundaries (not asking people to work after hours), promote a work culture where enough time is given to meet deadlines, MOST IMPORTANTLY having fixed working hours that should be adhered to. Healthy work habits motivate and encourage employees to do their best at the job and reduces turnover rates caused due to excessive burden of work.
- Employee morale: Boost employee morale by treating them with respect, giving raises appropriately, organising work picnics/outings, or organising celebrations of festivals, having interactive seminars, trust building workshops, ensuring that the organizational hierarchy is approachable etc.
- Health promotion and wellness programs: Organise training programs that teach them to take responsibility for their own health behaviour. Providing information about healthy lifestyles, relaxation, cessation of smoking/drinking habits, energy conservation techniques, and work-life balance. It is also equally important to lead by example and ensure that you incorporate those habits in your life as a manager/CEO/leader so that your employees are encouraged to follow the same.
- Managing relationships: Management/leadership style is the foundation of a successful work establishment. It is up to the manager to set a tone for the rest, to create a conducive work environment where all the employees can flourish and put their best foot forward. Poor management leads to poor outcomes of the entire workforce. An authoritarian style of management where the manager makes himself unapproachable and has poor communication with his subordinates is setting himself up for failure. A supervisor should facilitate problem solving, learning and self-correcting mistakes. This is one of the key reasons why more and more people prefer joining start-ups. In a start-up, the interactive style, the positive environment, and fewer number of employees with the same work ethic enables an individual to thrive and succeed without any unhealthy competition.
As an individual:
Identify stressors: Even if you are working at a job that you really like, it can get overwhelming sometimes. It can lead to noticeable effects in the form of insomnia, drowsiness during the day, frequent mood swings, physical health problems like acidity, stomach ulcers, body aches etc. Most important thing for you to do as an individual is to understand the signs from your body indicating that things might be getting a little out of hand. You should identify the cause of the stressor and take corrective measures. For example, if having to be on your toes to reply to emails after working hours is interfering in your leisure time, it is important to establish boundaries with co-workers and establishing your availability or lack thereof during the day.
Communication Style: Misunderstanding between co-workers can be a common source of stress. Avoiding ‘gossip’ will also reduce any chances of conflict in the workplace. Practicing effective communication skills like clarifying expectations, defining needs honestly, providing tactful and constructive feedback, being assertive instead of passive aggressive would really come a long way in avoiding troublesome interpersonal exchanges. It is also important to remember that you can change your attitude/ behaviour and responses but cannot controls others’ behaviour in any given situation.
Healthy work life balance: A work life balance in this ever-growing western work culture is considered a ‘myth’. None of us believe that we can be successful at our job along with maintaining our hobbies and have a social life. THE SECRET IS TO SET PRIORITIES. Setting priorities can not only help you organise your time in such a way that you can have both but also give perspective while making crucial decisions. Make time to pursue a hobby, engage in relaxing activities, go out on weekends, or take your vacation days! It is a simple conundrum; we earn so we can have a good lifestyle, but we don’t invest time into reaping the fruits of our labour.
Social support: Our job is not the only thing we are accountable for. We all have responsibilities towards our family, home, and others. These add an additional burden on our back causing a surge in stress levels. Having a good social support system is very important in order to delegate some of the work onto others. Sharing the load provides us the mental comfort of not being stuck alone to manage all the chores and allows us to put more time and concentration into our jobs rather than being constantly distracted by other commitments.
Other than this it would be beneficial to talk to HR regarding any problems you are facing at work and get regular physical and mental health check-ups.
If you are a business trying to improve the health of your employees you can have a counsellor service offered to employees once a month or once in a quarter to allow them an opportunity to discuss work related stressors. These can ultimately give you a collective feedback on the well-being of your employees and help you make changes in your organisation and managerial styles.
As an individual if you are facing stress at your work place remember to keep check on your physical health and seek counselling for your mental health. Counselling can help you develop efficient coping strategies to deal with these stressors (such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, physical exercise instead of turning to substances and alcohol) and support you through a job transition as well. We can assist in finding a specialist for you and provide continuation of care as long as you need it.