How to bullet proof your employees against work stress
Michael E. Bernard, PhD
Emeritus Professor, California State University, Long Beach
Founder, You Can Do It! Education
Bad things happen when your employees experience extreme pressure at work.
Find out how to bullet proof them against work stress.
You will know that when work stress is extreme for your employees bad things happen—including absenteeism, staff turnover and lowered commitment, work engagement and performance. Additionally, the mental and emotional lives of employees can suffer greatly, particularly under abnormal levels of stress.
“As a captain of the ship, you have a duty of care to protect your employees and you can bullet proof them (and yourself) against stress. It takes a bit of preparation and time but it’s well worth the effort.”
6 causes of work stress
- Work overload—time/workload pressures;
- Changing priorities at the last minute;
- Change in organisational structure and colleagues/reporting;
- Not being involved in collaborative decision-making that effects your job;
- Colleagues, including superiors, who engage in unprofessional behaviour, for example, failure to complete assigned tasks at a quality standard; showing disrespect, and,
- Performance setbacks—not achieving goals.
How to cure work stress
If you do anything about how often the above stressors occur, that will make a big difference.
There is little question that HR (or you) needs to take a leading role in providing employees with ongoing support to help them cope the mental and emotional strain . This is especially important for new hires—especially during their period of induction and the following months.
4 steps employees can take to reduce work stress
- Supportive relationship. Employees will find it immeasurably helpful to have one or more people at work (and outside) to whom they can go to when highly stressed. An experienced mentor with a high EQ can listen and offer wise counsel.
- Personal organisation. If time/workload demands are part and parcel of employee’s job, it’s vital that learning opportunities are provided in the areas of priority setting, time management and delegation.
- Resilient mindset. The key to much of stress management is the ability to have on hand strategies for coping with different stressors. You need to make these available for employees to learn how not to take things personally and to increase their tolerance combined with coping skills such as self-management, relaxation, mindfulness and assertion (not aggression or passivity).
- Healthy lifestyle. Stress is partly physiological and when stress-creating hormones like cortisol and high blood pressure are constantly ringing the bell, one’s diet, exercise and recreational lives are key buffers. Employees need an opportunity to consider ways to improve their lifestyles and work-life balance.
A boss or HR can discuss and facilitate ways to make support and prioritise these points.
Stress relievers for workers
Work stress management is an investment you can afford to make. It pays off in so many ways.
Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing, thinking and feeling at every moment without interpretation or judgment.
Remind yourself that your value and worth as a person should not be determined by what others think of you nor by your achievements or failures at work.
Replay past work achievements
Think back to those times when you felt good about your work and about things that had gone well for you.
Begin your day calmly
Sit for two minutes in the morning and play some relaxation music. Take full deep breaths. Visualise the day ahead going well.
Find some time to talk with someone whom you trust and who knows you, cares about you and who, if possible, appreciates your work achievements.
Remove yourself from stressful environment, go for a walk or arrange to work from home.
Do not ‘catastrophise’
Keep things in perspective about events at work that are hassles.
Express appreciation to others for what they have done for you as opposed to paying attention to what you need.