Do you supervise or manage anyone? Are your subordinates suffering from job stress? Does your work environment contribute to worker stress? Do you address job stress issues?
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), job stress occurs when job requirements don’t match employee capabilities, resources or needs. Widespread and costly, job stress is called a “world health epidemic” by the World Health Organization.
Companies pay out millions as a result of accidents, absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, legal, medical and insurance costs, and court judgments. NIOSH reports that sixty percent of lost work days each year can be attributed to stress-related conditions.
Job conditions that promote stress
How many of the following conditions exist in your company?
- Limited employee influence over decisions affecting work
- Ambiguous job descriptions, conflicting expectations, inconsistent rules
- Rude customers or clients
- Few stress breaks
- Excessive competition among co-workers
- Responsibilities without adequate control or resources
- Job insecurity and no preparation for change
- Inability of workers to balance personal and work lives
- Gender or cultural biases
- Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise
- Excessive bureaucracy, paperwork
- Nasty politics
- Few advancement opportunities
- Low salary for job and industry
- Too much or too little work
- Poor communication, little information to perform well or plan
- Little recognition or support from co-workers or supervisors
- Little employee development or training
- Management insensitive to grievances, family-friendly policies
Counteracting job stress
Stressed workers often feel powerless to improve their work environments, but supervisors can make a difference. Be responsive to workers’ needs. Consider the following:
Positive reinforcement is more effective than negative. Give immediate, specific, frequent feedback. Recognize good performers publicly. Coach marginal performers.
Reinforce and encourage creativity, resilience and risk-taking.
Listen. Let others know you hear and understand their thoughts. Address issues quickly and discuss individual concerns privately. Reduce uncertainty about future employment prospects. Share information about upcoming changes to help staff deal with anxiety and dispel rumours.
Offer employee assistance services such as legal assistance and counselling to deal with family and career issues.
Implementing change takes time. Eliminate one stressor at a time. Involve employees in prioritizing these. You will have healthier, happier, more productive workers.
Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life provides additional ways both employers and employees can minimize stress at work: https://www.amazon.com/Questers-Dare-Change-Your-Life/dp/1508408963