Stress is dangerous, both to your employees and your company. For your employees, stress imposes high psychic costs – depression, fatigue, and social withdrawal – and is a major factor in heart attacks, hypertension and other disorders.
For your company, workplace stress imposes major costs in reduced productivity, sales and profits. It’s also a major factor in employee absenteeism. In fact, an employer survey by UK-based CIPD found workplace stress to be the biggest cause of long-term absenteeism.
The responsibility to deal effectively with stress is one of the most important and challenging aspects of every manager’s job. To reduce workplace stress and absenteeism, here are six tips for managers.
Prioritize and organize. Set the tone from the top by controlling the pace and volume of work. Though you can’t always control the pace of work, try to limit the duration of high-stress periods and let them know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Avoid unreasonable deadlines. Be sure that the assignments you give to your employees are suitable to their abilities and resources. Clearly define employees’ roles and your expectations for performance.
Communicate. Engage your employees in big decisions, especially those that affect their jobs. Find ways to show employees that you value their contributions and make clear there are opportunities for career development. Keep them informed on important company decisions and developments. Listen attentively, not only to the words but the emotions your employees are trying to communicate.
Support an entrepreneurial atmosphere. Empower your employees. Delegate. Encourage and reward creativity. Project energy and enthusiasm. Emphasize teamwork and collaborative problem solving – and celebrate your team’s successes.
Resolve conflict positively. Workplace conflicts can be a major source of employee stress. By being proactive and positive in resolving conflict, you can reduce tension and create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.
Adopt flexible work arrangements. Rigidity in work schedules can be a major source of stress for employees who live hectic lives outside of the workplace, especially those who must tend to the needs of children or elderly parents. By recognizing employee needs with flexible work arrangements, you can engender greater loyalty and work satisfaction.
Practice effective ‘self-management’. Emotional intelligence is essential to bolstering self-confidence, defusing tension, and maintaining that all-important sense of humor in projecting a sense of calm and leadership. Stress can undermine your capacity to exercise emotional intelligence and sound judgment, so do all you can to increase your capacity for self-awareness and self-management. Be attentive to your physical and emotional health. Connect with others at work. Discuss problems with someone you trust. The better you feel, the more resilient you’ll be in the face of stressful situations.
Workplace stress is a greater factor in absenteeism than most employers realize. Many employers fail to track the extent of absenteeism or investigate its causes. Depending on size and operational scope, many organizations may benefit from finding an outsourced solution to help manage the process. For more information on our absence reporting and employee absenteeism services, contact us.