As April 2019 has been coveted as stress awareness month in the UK, we want to ensure stress isn’t affecting your workforce. Stress can manifest itself in many different forms and whichever way you deal with it, stress can be extremely counter-productive for both an individual and employer. A happy and motivated team should always be the goal for any business leader.
What can cause stress? Particularly in the workplace, any number of factors can contribute to the stress levels, including; high workloads, tight deadlines, long hours, no support, changes within the organisation and so on. You might be able to spot signs that stress is beginning to take effect as employees may tell you that they are feeling under pressure, or even behavioural changes such as falling out with colleagues, becoming introverted or even taking unexpected time off.
What we’ll explore in this article is what you can do to ensure your team gets everything they need from you to help reduce stress in your business. Once you’ve identified that you need to take action to help reduce stress then create the time to focus on your team and understand what can help them.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR TEAM INDIVIDUALLY
As we have said many times before, your staff are one of the most important assets for your business. Take the time to understand your team and team members. What motivates them? What are they good at? What do they need? What can you do to make sure you know what makes your team tick:
- Conduct a thorough and effective induction. You’ll get to know them from the very start and help them settle in to their roles quickly. Also, you’ll get an understanding of what areas they are good at and areas you might need to develop in them.
- Have regular one-to-one meetings. This opens the lines of communication and gives you both an opportunity to discuss their role and what you both want to achieve. Discuss wellbeing in the workplace, understand what causes them headaches and plan accordingly.
- Recognise a job well done. Yes, they are paid for the work they do for you, but recognition can make all the difference to someone’s motivation at work. Praise them for it! Reward if necessary! This helps you when it comes to developing them, let them know where they are doing things right and work together to develop areas for improvement.
- Be available to talk. If an employee is feeling the strain of change or a heavy workload, be there for them; listen and work together to combat the situation. Having more contact will mean a more comfortable relationship.
- LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Do as I say, not as I do? Eventually that type of cavalier approach may catch up with you. If you’re looking after your own wellbeing then you’ll be in a better position to understand someone else’s wellbeing. Some key tips for promoting healthy working habits:
- Encourage scheduled breaks to be taken and full annual leave entitlement. Nothing causes burnout more than overworking. Take the agreed breaks, make sure you have annual leave, hit the re-set button and you’ll be more productive as a team.
- Inspire a policy for exercise. Being active is a great way to overcome stressful situations so make time to do it – and make sure your team follow suit. Could you take regular walking breaks at work or be active together?
- Offer benefits. Many employers are now offering benefits to staff that promote wellbeing directly, such as gym memberships. This is a great way of not only leading a feel-good lifestyle but can help you attract new talent to your business. This can be a really big selling point for your company.
- Avoid long working days. You can pile the extra stress on employees by ringing them in the evenings or weekends. Worse still, don’t check-in whilst you’re on annual leave.
- If you’re too ill to work, rest and come back stronger. We all suffer from unfortunate short-term illnesses throughout the year, make sure you get the required recovery and not try to struggle on.
- Promote a healthy work-life balance. If you do, so will everyone else.
- REVIEW GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS
Are you on the ‘’same page’’? By spending time reviewing each position within the business it gives you the opportunity to share the vision for the business and how everyone contributes to it. This will engage everyone in the organisation and demonstrate their value – a big contributing factor to happiness at work.
- Make sure everyone knows their place. Use the one-to-one meetings. Tell them about your plans. Listen to what they need. Explore training opportunities. Stress can arise from not feeling that you have the tools to do your job properly.
- Set realistic targets or deadlines. Piling on the work and just expecting it to happen will not motivate anyone. Agree the goals and how they will happen. Everyone knows where they stand and then work within the set parameters.
- Give freedom. Within reason, give the freedom to each employee to make the role their own. You have your ideas, they will also have their own. Work together to make it work and watch them flourish!
- Understand the workload. Are there departments which need more support? Working through breaks, regularly staying late or coming in on days off are a tell-tale sign that the workload could becoming too much.
- DEVELOP YOUR MANAGEMENT SYLE
Everyone feels the pressure, that is normal. But are you being consistent with your team? Take the time to reflect and develop how approachable you are, how you are performing at managing them and develop your own ways of executing your role.
- How often do you meet with your team? Adding in a monthly one-to-one meeting can help you develop your relationships. As discussed, this is mutually beneficial.
- Are you approachable and available? You’ll need to have private and sensitive conversations on your journey, so why not make it clear your door is always open?
- Act fast on conflict, harassment or bullying. These situations can unfortunately happen, so be decisive and take action to resolve.
- Find a balance between micro-management, support and autonomy.
- Communicate clearly and fairly. When the business changes it’s great practice to inform everyone concerned. Allowing staff to feedback is a positive way to engage.
- Stress can have a negative impact on any business. By having the foresight to prevent it before it becomes a problem will set you apart.
All the above will help you to help your team succeed. We work with proactive business owners to develop strategies to engage with their employees and to create a positive culture. That’s working with existing HR teams or as an outsourced HR department. If you’d like to explore how you can grow the influence of the HR function in your business then we’d love to hear from you.
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