Studies have shown that office-based stress management programs can have a profound effect on increasing worker productivity, as well as reducing illness and absenteeism. The following tips offer small — yet significant — ways for you to decrease stress and anxiety in yourself and your employees:
- Address workers’ individual needs. Each employee’s needs are different. For those susceptible to stress, a little extra handholding may be required. To alleviate some of their anxiety, make sure employees have a long and short-term plan for getting jobs done on schedule. Check in with them regularly to ensure they’re on track. Your staff will feel less overwhelmed, and be grateful for your attention.
- Keep the communication flowing. Scheduling regular evaluations can alleviate any anxiety a staff member may feel about the quality of their work and/or the security of their position. Encouraging them to offer feedback will cause you to appear more approachable; thus, when they do have a problem, they can feel comfortable in addressing it with you early on.
- Institute an eight-hour workday. A majority of the workforce believes that staying late guarantees a leg up in the company. Yet staying in the office later does not guarantee that a worker is being more productive. If you establish a set “end of the day” (say, no later than 6 p.m.), your team will work hard to get the job done with more efficiency, while allowing them time to devote to other important things in their lives, such as quality time with friends or family, or simply personal time.
- Encourage a healthful lifestyle. Proper nutrition and regular exercise have been proven to increase workers’ performance and boost their immune systems (meaning fewer sick days). Instead of chips and donuts, stock the kitchen with fresh fruit and granola bars. Always provide plenty of water. Consider offering employees subsidized gym memberships and/or yoga classes. Encouraging better eating and exercise habits will have them feeling better both physically and emotionally, thus reducing their stress levels and improving the quality of their work.
- Get to know one another. Chances are that, aside from the occasional happy hour, your employees have little time to get to know one another. Off-site activities such as softball games, Friday afternoon matinees, and bowling outings encourage team building, and can provide relief from tension buildup in the office.
- Be flexible and understanding. Make it clear to your staff that they can come to you anytime with questions, concerns, or feedback. When an issue involves another employee, address the matter immediately, as it is probably already disrupting communication and cooperation around the office. Problems at home deserve special consideration; for example, if a parent needs to pick up his or her child from school everyday, try to be as accommodating as possible (within reason). He or she will greatly appreciate your flexibility, and will be that much more committed to the company.
- Take care of yourself. Working eight to ten hours straight is not healthy. Allow yourself at least a 15-minute break every two hours to recharge your batteries. Take a walk around the block, get a drink of water, stretch at your desk. The important thing is to relieve yourself of the tension that can build up in your body and mind, often without your knowledge.
- Get professional help. Everyone gets stressed from time to time, especially someone in a management position with a lot of responsibility. Yet as a manager, you may fear that showing that things are “getting to you” could undermine your authority and set a bad example. Private counseling offers a safe and confidential means of discussing your problems at work and at home.
- Take a vacation. Vacations are the ultimate stress reliever — don’t shortchange yourself by collecting vacation days like baseball cards. Use them, and make sure your employees do too.