Workplace Stress

Workplace StressStress. Many of us are faced with it every day, but we might not know how to deal with it. It is important to learn how to handle stress because it can affect our performance and relationships in our work and home. At work, stress can lead to distraction and cause an unfortunate accident. At home, stress can put a strain on family relationships.

Research shows that January is the most stressful month of the year when it comes to workplace stress (across all Industries), primarily due to the hangover of the holidays, financial pressures and year-end reviews. A stressed-out work environment isn’t a safe and healthy one. Luckily, there are some quick and simple ways you can help everyone learn to manage their stress better.

While many of us need a certain level of stress to achieve peak performance, too much stress can take its toll, which will increase the risk of:

  • Job burnout
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hypertension
  • Frequent illnesses

The more an organization can do to reduce stress on the job – and the more individuals can do to better manage the stress in their lives – the more productive the workplace will be. :)

There are many contributors to employee stress. Supervisors, in particular, are faced with numerous challenges, including:

  • Downsizing or reorganization, often involving low morale and an unstable work environment
  • Large workloads, high performance demands and long work hours
  • 24/7 technology – e-mail, cell phones and wireless devices - which make it difficult to separate work from home
  • Work/life obligations, especially in instances where there are two-career families, single-parent households and elder care responsibilities
  • Health related concerns

We can help create a less stressful work environment by applying the following practices:

  • Allowing workers to have some control over their schedules
  • Include their input in decision making
  • Balance responsibility with the authority necessary to complete the task
  • Set reasonable limits and timelines
  • Remember to recognize a job well done
  • Provide resources to help balance work/home issues, such as on-site/ near-site child care or elder care and Employee Assistance Programs
  • Continually review policies, processes, and methods of organizing and distributing work; make sure they are fair and effective

Employees can better manage workplace stress by implementing the following:

  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet starting with breakfast, and get a good night’s sleep
  • Volunteer time and services; doing something for others can help a person forget their own problems and increase self-esteem
  • Seek professional help; use employee assistance programs or participate in special therapy that can teach ways to better manage the problems that are causing stress
  • Keep moving – studies show that exercising for 30 minutes a day reduces stress
  • Learn to express your feelings – you don’t have to face problems alone
  • Determine the source of the stress. If it can’t be removed from your life, learn to cope by developing a systematic and rational way of thinking through the situation and taking control by figuring out options to better handle the problem.

Think about the situations in your life that cause you stress. Are they important or unimportant? Are they controllable or uncontrollable? If they are controllable events, you can take action to change the situation; if they are uncontrollable, you can use your skills in acceptance, attitude and perspective to reduce the stress.

You will never completely remove stress from your life but identifying and managing stressors can help you maintain a positive and healthy lifestyle.