Workplace stress is an ongoing problem, but you can help a lot with a little effort.
Workplace stress has been getting a lot of attention lately; but according to at least one survey, this is still a significant problem for employees despite efforts to address it. The report from Comparably showed that more than half of workers feel stressed out at work, and many of these say they’ve been run ragged on the job. Interestingly, entry-level workers report more burnout than employees with years of experience. Read on to learn about what specific issues cause stress for employees at various levels and how you can help.
The report categorized employees as executive, administrative, and customer support; and employees on all three levels identify “unclear goals” as the greatest contributor to stress. In second place for executives is long hours (20%); the commute, a difficult coworker, and a bad manager for administrative staff (a tie at 20% each); and a bad manager (20%) for customer support.
Worries about behaviors and actions at work cause stress for employees. For instance, 45% of respondents in this study identified becoming stagnant as their greatest fear, while 23% worry about having a stress breakdown at work. Fewer are concerned about being overlooked for a promotion (19%), upsetting the boss (9%), and being accused of harassment (4%). Executives are twice as concerned about becoming stagnant (62%) as customer support employees (23%).
Workplace distractions cause stress for everyone, but it’s not cat videos and Facebook creating the most problems. Instead, 42% of employees say their coworkers and/or boss are distracting them. Only 24% said social media or the Internet takes their focus. Family issues (14%) and personal financials (13%) also cause them to be distracted.
Over a third of employees (33% of men and 36% of women) say a healthy work-life balance is the most important work benefit, and the one most likely to help reduce stress. Surprisingly, about a quarter (27% of men and 20% of women) of employees say they are encouraged or allowed to take naps during their workday. While this is considered by some experts to be an effective stress-breaker, it’s still unusual to find organizations and cultures that support workplace naptime.
While time off is widely considered essential to stress management, many employees say they can’t stop working even when they are on vacation or personal/sick leave. Calls and emails from the office are common but unwelcome disruptions.
You can help employees deal with stress. Start with a few steps:
· Set clear, realistic goals. When employees know what is expected of them and feel confident in their ability to complete tasks, work will be less stressful and more rewarding.
· Encourage mindfulness. This form of meditation, designed to help people develop the ability to pay attention to their feelings and experiences, live in the moment, and cultivate acceptance and patience, is increasingly recognized as an effective way to manage stress.
· Offer flexibility. Don’t micromanage. Instead, give employees’ tasks and deadlines and let them do their jobs. When possible, let employees come in late or leave early to handle family responsibilities. Give shift workers a say in scheduling, and let them trade shifts as appropriate and necessary.
· Encourage healthy movement. Urge employees to take time out of the day to stretch, walk, and exercise. Make it easy by starting walking groups, onsite yoga classes, and dancing lessons.
· Recognize hard work. Have employee recognition programs that let people know they are needed and appreciated. Keep your eyes and ears open every day, and take a minute to chat with someone who looks down, exhausted, or unhappy.
Stress management isn’t one-and-done. Make sure that stress management and concern for employees’ mental, physical, and psychological health are embedded in the organizational culture.