Have you ever heard the expression, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”? I once heard this line come out of a manager’s mouth when consulting with him about an employee who was expressing high levels of stress due to workload and deadlines. Of course, the expression made me cringe and I asked the manager to consider a more proactive approach to managing workplace stress. I advised him that workplace stress and burn out leads to increased absenteeism, low employee morale, decrease in productivity, workplace safety issues and, ultimately, potential loss of key employees.
According to Harris, Rothenberg International, a provider of employee assistance program services, workplace stress is at an all-time high and counselors have noticed an increase in behaviors being reported in the workplace. These include suicidal comments, violence and hallucinations. There are many factors that contribute to workplace stress, such as a mismatch between the requirements of the job and available resources, design of tasks, workload, management style, difficult working conditions, etc.
The hazards of workplace stress can wreak havoc on the health of an organization. But they don’t have to. The following are some best practices organizations can incorporate to manage and reduce workplace stress:
1) An open-door policy
Inviting employees to have a say about their work environment in an honest and open fashion can change the workplace culture and reduce stress. Improve communications by allowing your employees the opportunity to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs, while also providing an opportunity for social interaction and collaboration among staff members.
2) Flexible work arrangements
Allow for compatibility with demands and responsibilities outside the job and support better work/life balance for employees.
3) Encourage breaks
Whether or not they’re required by law, employers should encourage short breaks. Breaks can rejuvenate the body and brain, resulting in higher quality of work. Encouraging short breaks will also make employees feel that their boss cares about their health and safety.
4) Perform regular risk assessments
Identify and eliminate harmful and unpleasant working conditions. Regular assessments can prevent work-related injury and disease, while encouraging a work environment that promotes well-being for everyone.
5) Wellness programs
Wellness programs are designed to improve employee health, reduce health care expenses, enhance productivity, decrease stress and boost morale. Effective wellness programs come in all shapes and sizes and can include smoking cessation programs, flu shots, health screenings, fitness incentives, nutrition counseling and even simple initiatives like adding fresh fruits and vegetables in the break room.
6) Offer an employee assistance program
An employee assistance program (EAP) generally includes short-term counseling and referral services for employees and their household members. EAPs are intended to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health and well-being.
Implementing one or more of the above practices can positively impact an organization’s return on investment through lower medical costs, reduced turnover, decreased absenteeism and higher employee productivity.
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.
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