I attended a presentation this month on stress in the workplace. It was interesting to reaffirm that stress in the workplace can result in high absenteeism; health issues, and have an overall impact on performance by all employees, including managers. Having experienced this myself as a senior manager, it is something that everyone in the workplace has to take responsibility for.
I remember a few years ago spending a day with my fellow managers and a consultant reviewing what stressors exist in our daily workplaces. Here are some examples:
- Having an open door policy can cause a person a lot of stress. Constant interruptions can result in that email or letter taking considerably more time to complete. You can lose your train of thought and literally have to start from scratch at times. The solution- let your staff know that when your door is closed, it means that you do not want to be interrupted unless it is an emergency.
- Having to travel on weekends or late at night on Fridays for business. This takes away from family time and your own downtime. Spending time in airports waiting for planes or driving long distances after hours can take a toll on people. Solution- create a policy in the office that travel times start on Monday mornings and end on Friday at 5pm.
- Try to keep your email inbox down to a minimum amount of emails. I tried hard and succeeded most days in having nothing in my email box when I left the office at the end of the day. Impossible you say- I used to received anywhere from 100-200 emails a day so it can be done. Just be diligent about this.
- Look for stressors in the office and deal with them as quickly as possible. As a manager, you set the example.
- Be diligent in keeping an eye on staff for stress points. I used to make a habit of walking around the office every morning for a few minutes and talked to every staff member. This gives you a good idea of their frame of mind and any issues that might be cropping up. It does not take long but pays large dividends.
- Be prepared to ask for outside help if you or your staff needs it. Most employers have an Employee Assistance Program and the key is to get staff to take advantage of it without infringing on their privacy.
- How about having a stress reliever every once in a while? Having jean Fridays, fun events, recognizing birthdays, etc.
- And last but not least, be flexible with your staff- especially those with children. Sometimes a mom or dad need to leave the office to deal with an issue with the children so create an atmosphere at work that they do not feel intimidated in asking to take some time off to deal with those issues. Most employees give a lot to their organizations so not penalizing them for family issues goes a long way.
The thing about dealing with stress is that it is not difficult to deal with if done right. Good communication between yourselves and your employees and between themselves will help greatly to head some stress off at the pass or at least give you an opportunity to deal with it before it becomes a major issue.
This is a challenge for everyone so being proactive is the best course of action.