Archive for August 2013

Friday Feeling or Friday Fear? Reduce Workplace Stress Every Day

August 23, 2013

                                       by Aoife Gorey

Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish.  Too little produces a bland, dull meal;  too much may choke you.”

                                                                                                                        Donald Tubesing

Oh, Friday! Happy Friday! The weekend is so close you can taste it! Just thinking of sleeping late and time with friends brings a smile to my face. Suddenly, my enthusiasm is put on hold as I remember the long checklist of to-do’s I have before the weekend break. We’re always so busy here at Profiles that normally Friday is here before I know it!

Let’s face it: work is stressful, life is stressful. I’m not a naturally organized person, but in business I like to be (and need to be!). When my checklist isn’t marked off each day, I get a little stressed. There are so many external factors that can contribute to one’s stress level; when an employee is stressed or worried from personal issues, work may be the last thing on their mind. Don’t get me wrong, there are many people out there that can leave their issues at the door when they arrive at work – some that rise to the occasion – but there are also those that cringe with fear, become upset, and avoid the situation completely. We’re only human! Employees who experience frequent, high levels of stress have lower productivity levels and quality of output, and in turn, can end up costing your company more in missed days and high turnover.

Making an informed decision to create a stress free environment for your team can seriously pay off. Ignoring this is just like adding lighter fluid to a fire. Whether you are an executive, manager, or team member, you can have an impact on the stress level of your co-workers.

Here are some ways you can reduce workplace stress every day of the week:

1. Decorate!
You may not work in amazing offices like Google or Facebook (or have the budget), but you can still create a fun and relaxed environment. Let your employees create their own personal atmosphere. What is the harm of having a few plants or pictures?

Employee: If you wish, bring personal items to the office; pictures of your kids, significant other, or favorite artwork. Hang up any awards you have received. If the lighting hurts your eyes, check with your manager to see if you can bring in a lamp that is a little gentler on your eyes.

What I do: I live almost 5,000 miles from home, so I have a ton of family pictures in my office, and I have a “The Most Awesome-ist” award some co-workers gave me hanging on my wall. You spend so much time at work, you NEED to feel comfortable.

2. Don’t forget team building!
: Set up a sports team, bowling team, discounted gym membership, or book club and make it for employees only. Give a small budget to each group to encourage attendance.  By letting employees meet and socialize in settings that don’t require them to work on stressful projects together, they can create trusting work relationships that will help them when it counts the most.

Employee: If management isn’t taking these steps, take it upon yourself! Reach out to your department and others to measure any interest. To avoid any conflict, use your personal email and email after work hours.

What I do: We have so many employees here at Profiles, and lots of departments do different things. Here in Marketing, we will play Pictionary for 30 minutes to chill out, or grab lunch
together. Sales recently had a BBQ for lunch at the office to congratulate their team on a great quarter. The whole company was recently invited to a local water park for a family afternoon out.

3. Use your manners!
Always thank employees for their hard work. You’d be surprised how much a simple compliment can do for morale. Don’t just thank them in private either; thank them in front of the group in your next department meeting.

Employee: This rule applies to you, too. Most employees work closely with other team members in some shape or form. If you finish a project with a co-worker, thank them for their contribution.

What I do: I try to live by the above suggestions. Another tip is if a co-worker has done a great job working with me on a project, I’ll email our VP directly to let him know. Or, I bring breakfast! A few dollars at Shipley’s or a homemade breakfast casserole goes along way, especially if your team is stressed with deadlines.

4. Communicate!
: Get insight into how and why your employees are experiencing stress. Stress and employee conflict often arise from a misalignment of company perspectives and abilities required to perform specific job functions.

Employees: Talk to your boss. That’s what he or she is there for. If you’re overwhelmed at work, instead of missing deadlines, be realistic and let him or her know what’s going on.