Archive for the ‘Stress Management’ category

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.


3 Ways to Minimize Work-Related Stress Before It Overwhelms

March 12, 2012

Guest Post by Dario Priolo on Mon, Mar 12, 2012

Many people, regardless of their role or level in the hierarchy, experience stress from work. The combination of quickly approaching deadlines, crashed hard drives, and too much coffee may seem like day-to-day annoyances, but they each contribute to a person’s stress level. Some people work well under pressure, while others may fold like a cheap suit when the going gets tough. A manager’s ability to help employees to minimize work-related stress can have a significant impact on productivity and effectiveness.

Regardless of one’s ability to cope with stress, each person has a limit, and each workplace can take steps to ensure that no employee has to endure stressful extremes.

Typical examples of work-related stressors include lack of control, deadline pressure, poor work relationships, excessive travel, lack of communication, work overload, understaffing, organizational change, and job stability.

While some may consider these to be the norm, they may actually cause severe physical and psychological issues among employees. In fact, stress is linked to some of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

The workplace is teeming with stressors that have the potential to seriously harm employees if they are not managed properly. To successfully promote employee health and safety, businesses should assess and manage work-related risks that could lead to unhealthy levels of stress. All parties within an organization should be aware of the need to address potential health-related issues in the workplace, including the company, supervisors, and individual employees.

Each party plays a different role in assessing and addressing health-related issues, and, if done correctly, their efforts will result in a healthy workforce.

1. Tackling stress at the company level

The company is accountable for taking reasonably practical actions to reduce hazards and risks and to ensure that work activity does not adversely impact the health of employees. In recent years, many progressive companies have taken steps to promote and improve work-life balance throughout their workforce. Depending on the size of the company these actions may include anything from allowing flexible work hours to providing a daycare service for employee’s children. As reported on MSNBC, Maryland-based WeddingWire allows their staff to take unlimited time off – as long as the work gets done.

Companies should consider the top stressors of their employees, and then adapt policies to counteract those stressors. Some companies may not be able to provide ample vacation time for their employees, but they could create policies that allow for comp time or break periods throughout the day so that employees feel like they have the freedom to step away from work to deal with personal matters or simply recharge. Each company should take the time to minimize stressors that are within their control in order to ensure that quality and productivity remain an employee’s priority.

2. Supervisors can minimize employees’ stress levels

Supervisors also play a major role when identifying and relieving work-related stress as they are responsible for assisting employees in maintaining a healthful work environment. This may include looking at how work is organized, being vigilant regarding employee vulnerabilities, and finding ways to relieve pressure so that stress does not become excessive.

It is also important to continually review how others are impacted by changes in team dynamics. In order to address problems accurately, supervisors should learn the basic signs of a stressed employee, and what resources are available to assist employees with stress-related issues.

3. Employees should take personal ownership of managing stress

Although it is tempting to blame the company or the job description, employees are also responsible for their stress-related issues. It is the responsibility of the individual to notify their supervisors of any issues related to their perceived stress or stress they observe in others.

This requires open communication between the employee and the supervisor which is typically dependent on a strong relationship based on honesty and trust. Individuals should also familiarize themselves with available resources and support such as Human Resources and the Occupational Health Department.

Stress should not be taken lightly. Too much of it can lead to an increase in the likelihood or severity of a number of physical and psychological illnesses, increased absenteeism and an increase in the frequency of accidents, reduced morale, increased staff turnover, and reduced productivity.

Professionals at every level should work together to remedy any stressors that are potentially harmful to employees. Work may be demanding, but the health of individuals does not have to suffer as a result.

Jeffrey Meyers contributed to this article.