Stress in the workplace is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. Ask anyone with a full-time day job how they are, and the likely response is “busy”, “stressed”, “frantic”. Stress seems to be part of the deal in our working lives.
The stats on workplace stress are mounting up, too. Recent research from the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Wellbeing Scale (which monitors wellbeing in the general population) shows that almost two-thirds (64%) of employees have “poor” or “below average” mental wellbeing. A lot of stress, employees report, is caused by long working hours and the inability to prioritise personal wellbeing – with little opportunity to take a break or exercise.
Yet the relationship employees have with their manager is also a major factor in their stress levels. Workers need to feel valued and included if they are to do their best work. If they feel ignored, undervalued, overly criticised or overlooked then their productivity will go down and the commitment to their work will be compromised.
With this in mind, we’re offering some suggestions to managers that may go some way to diminishing their employees’ stress levels.
As a manager, take a moment to consider the following…
How do I handle my own stress?
Are you continually firing off emails, shouting at your staff, or generally feeling out of your depth with the volume of work you have to deal with? Do you kick back at your employees as a way of offloading the stuff you’re feeling overwhelmed with? Know that how a manager deals with stress will have an impact on how your team will deal with stress. You set the temperature. Is it high and overloaded? Or moderate and contained. Start by assessing where you are and where you would like to be. Workers take the lead from you. Adjust if you need to. Think patience and grace.
How do I communicate?
Research suggests that half of managers flip out or are unable to manage communication with their employees when under stress. Communication, to be healthy, needs to include:
Clarity: Leave your staff clear about what is needed from them, and have regular updates to check in how they’re doing, feeling, behaving, communicating.
Transparency: Don’t hide anything that might be going on. Employees need to feel empowered with knowledge. Not knowing can leave them feeling insecure.
Motivation: Praise in public. Deal with issues in private. Work out what your employees need and want, and discuss how they can achieve their goals.
How can I listen more?
If employees have an issue then they need to know that issue has been heard, listened to, and acted upon. You can’t deal with your staff issues if you don’t feel supported yourself. If you’re stressed out then you can’t hear what your team are asking from you. A recent survey showed that more than half of managers shut down and become less empathic and understanding when in a stressful situation. If you recognise yourself here then you may want to consider how you react, how you communicate when you’ve reacted, and how you can bring yourself back to a place where you can be a calmer version of yourself. Then you might be in a better place to hear your staff when they need to speak to you – and so you can actively listen and pre-empt any major issues going forward.
If you need some support with workplace issues – as a manager or employee – you can get in touch to discuss how we can best support you. Call us on 020 8673 4545 to have a conversation with our team. You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org