Do you notice your employees feeling on edge or stressed? Work-related stress is prevalent in the United States. According to research done by the American Institute of Stress in 2022, about 83% of American workers experience work-related stress. This stress can lead to problems in other areas of an employee’s life, such as their family, relationships, mental health, and physical health. Chronic stress can lead to an increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack, and hypertension, among other issues. Luckily, there are ways you can assess and reduce the amount of stress experienced by your employees in the workplace. In this article. We will discuss some common stressors at work, how to identify workplace stress, and ways to manage employee stress.
6 Common Sources of Stress in the Workplace
Though work-related stress can have many causes, here are some of the most common sources of this anxiety.
- Negative Workplace Culture
Workplace culture plays an important role in employee wellness. A positive workplace culture can encourage innovation, productivity, and reliability. On the other hand, a toxic culture full of drama and dysfunction prevents employees from reaching their fullest potential. Activities like micromanaging, bullying, harassment, judging, and cliques can significantly impact an employee’s stress level at work.
- Poor Communication
Poor communication can come in many forms. It can occur in teams, departments, and across an entire organization. Without proper communication and communication channels, employees will be less informed, more confused, and more anxious.
- Low Salary
In the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Work and Well-Being Survey, low pay remained the number one factor contributing to workplace stress. A low salary can mean different things in different industries and locations, but across the board, it leads to work and personal stress for the employee.
- Little Room for Advancement or Challenge
Employees naturally have the desire to advance in their careers. If an employee does not find his or her work challenging or sees no clear path to advancement, he or she may become stagnant and complacent.
- Issues with Work-Life Balance
An overly heavy workload can cause unnecessary stress to employees. Pilling on extra projects and tasks on top of an employee’s contracted duties can harm his or her mental health, particularly if he or she is not being compensated for the extra work.
- Lack of Support
Unrealistic expectations of employees can contribute to stress. Expecting employees to keep their work phones on at all times or come in on weekends is unrealistic, particularly if these expectations are not reflected in their paystubs.
How to Identify Stress in the Workplace
Stress has several common identifiers. Be on the lookout for sudden changes in employee behavior, such as mood, exhaustion, and optimism. Additionally, sudden changes in appearance, like rapid weight loss or weight gain, can indicate stress. Here are some other common identifiers:
- Lack of concentration
- Increased absenteeism
Upper and lower-level managers should be able to recognize these identifiers.
Looking at sales and other deliverables is often an employer’s go-to when identifying obstacles or stress issues. This can provide a general insight into whether or not your employees are experiencing stress. More importantly, employers should look at the full picture of an employee’s experience within the organization. Ask yourself questions such as “who do employees regularly interact with? What does their average workload look like? What does their average pay look like?” These questions, and others, can give employers a better sense of the types of stress their employees may be experiencing.
Managing Employee Stress
First, it is important to recognize that not all stress is work-related. An employee may exhibit indicators of stress due to personal or familial issues. Regardless of where the stress stems from, there are steps employers can take to manage employees’ stress.
Start by honestly asking your employees about their experience in the workplace. This can be done through anonymous surveys or in-person meetings. It is important to remind employees that the point of this exercise is for the employer to gain a better understanding of employee experience, not to get them in trouble.
Implementing Stress-Related Wellness Initiatives
After surveying employees, employers may find it helpful to implement a wellness initiative to target certain stressors. This can be as simple as encouraging exercise with subsidized gym memberships or offering classes on coping mechanisms.
Offering Flexibility in Work Schedule
Flexibility in how, when, and where employees work can significantly reduce stress. Some employees may feel better if they can work from home, while others enjoy the separation of work and home life. Regardless of preference, this flexibility not only shows employees that you trust them to do their job, but it also gives them some more control over their job, which can reduce stress.
Providing On-Site and Off-Site Resources
Knowledge of and access to mental health resources can make all the difference in employee stress. Resources like an on-site counselor and stress-management classes can allow employees to get training and help without going out of their way. You can also provide employees with information about therapists and classes that occur off-site if they prefer a more private experience.
Workplace stress is no joke. Stress management is an important practice for workplaces across the United States.
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