4 Ways to Improve Productivity and Reduce Employee Stress Levels

Stress in the workplace spreads like the Ebola virus in a packed movie theater. Once it starts to spread, intervention is the only cure.

In a global reaching 2015 study published by the Regus Group, it was discovered that despite what employers now know about stress and its deadly effects on workers, over half the global workforce feels even closer to burning out than they did 5 years ago.

What the heck’s going on here?

If Google can manage to placate over 95% of its workforce and their stress levels, why is it so hard for the rest of us to follow suit? And don’t say it’s because they have all the money and you don’t; stress reduction doesn’t cost a thing if you do it right. In fact, as you’re about to learn, the act of reducing stress can significantly increase profits across the board.

And you may think that because you’re the boss, it isn’t really your job to help employees keep their blood pressure under control. However, while it may not be in your “job description” keep in mind that what they do and how they feel coming into work directly affects you. If they’re not happy, it won’t be a long wait until you’re not too:

  • Poor customer service level leading to less return clients.
  • Increasing tardiness or sick days leading to missed deadlines.
  • Employees taking longer breaks on the company dime.
  • Poor focus leading to unsatisfactory results.
  • Outbursts and employee in-fighting in the workplace.
  • Increased turnaround at all levels along the employee chain.

These are just a few of many examples of the effects of stress at work. All scenarios require you (the boss) to spend more time fielding phone calls from angry clients and/or upper management, deal with more bickering and complaints from employees, schedule more meetings with employees to settle pointless disputes, and file tons more paperwork to facilitate the increased turnaround due to an overstressed work environment.

Still think you shouldn’t have to lift a finger?

How would you like to have this crazy disgruntled employee (who’s at the end of her rope) standing in your office?

Tips for reducing employee stress
Photo credit: Brittney Bush Bollay / Flickr

Here’s 5 relatively simple ways to help curb employee’s stress and by proxy, your own:

1. Institute a no homework policy.

Employees who take their work home with them are considered to be working in an “always-on environment” and this practice is considered a major productivity killer. This leads to unhappiness and an all-round lack of creativity in the workplace environment. Employees need time to recover from work. Don’t call them during off work hours either, unless it’s life or death. “But never after 8pm in the evening,” warns Rich Fernandez of workplace learning and development company Wisdom Labs. You can deal with such matters when they’re back on the clock the next work day.

2. Give them the right to focus on one task at a time.

And by give them the right, I’m talking about letting them actually complete a task before you’re asking them about their next project due that afternoon, or about something you’ve asked them to complete by next week. Leaders are the worst for encouraging multitasking. They have so much going on, they feel the incessant need to constantly pester their employees to satiate their own stress levels. Multitasking is old school. Modern companies need to focus on quality over quantity to succeed and compete. Neuroscientist and author, JoAnn Deak, says that “multitasking balloons the time it takes to accomplish each task and increases the number of mistakes and raises stress levels.” She suggests you should encourage serial monotasking instead. It’s largely up to you to encourage this behavior; they’ll happily take less stress over more if you allow it.

3. Breaktime means let them have a break goddarnnit!

Skipping the occasional break when the “crud hits the fan” isn’t the worst thing in the world that can happen. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially in frontline customer service environments. However, when it becomes the norm rather than the exception, employees will become restless. And justly so. The law says they’re entitled, and the law exists because we’re not creatures that are meant to go 12 straight hours without a little downtime to recoup during our workday.

4. Be human.

This study from across the pond a few years back proves clearly that employees who have bosses that make an effort to understand their employees are much happier. This includes employee’s motivations, dreams, and difficulties experienced on the job. The study made definite connections between kind and compassionate leaders and satisfied, highly productive employees.

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