Work and stress seem to be in a permanent relationship in many cases. The stress of daily work life can take its toll on many people, but it is considered that a little bit of stress and pressure is good for productivity and to keep people driving forward to reach goals and targets, and to innovate in business. At what point does this become a problem and counterproductive?
Learning how to manage stress as a leader is a vital component of being part of a successful organisation. If you cannot manage the stress of your workforce, understanding when to pull back and soften targets and challenges, and when to tighten up and demand more, you’ll fail in the long-term.
A study by the British Heart Foundation actually found that two out of every five people say that work related stress has had a direct impact on their health. Symptoms of this have been drinking more, smoking, eating poorly and performing less exercise. With ever-longer working hours and intense demands it can lead to poor working relationships between employees and their managers, as well as with colleagues working within the same team.
It is said that a person never leaves a job, but that they leave a bad manager. As stress is clearly a contributing factor to poor mental and physical health amongst a vast majority of the UK workforce, if you can learn as a manager how to deal effectively with the stress levels of your employees you, you will be much more likely to build a happy, optimistic place of work that meets goals and builds relationships without succumbing to the negative aspects of stress.
There are several things that an employer can achieve quickly to help alleviate levels of stress in the workplace. These include:
Demonstrating the Way Forward – A good leader is one who encourages employees to follow the way that they work. Keep a balance between your work and home life and your staff members will follow suit. Try not to overdo it by working longer hours than necessary and never taking breaks, as your staff members will feel like they have to follow suit. It is down to you to create and cultivate a workplace culture that is effective, productive, but a happy one.
Encourage Breaks – Legally your employees are allowed to take a 20-minute break for every six hours of work, and to have at least 11 hours break in between two working days or shifts. Even if your team is behind on certain targets, make sure they take breaks and stay well rested.
Flexible Working – If possible, a flexible working pattern that includes staggered working hours and the possibility to work remotely occasionally will go a long way to creating a trusting and happy workforce.
Listen and Encourage – A good leader will listen, encourage and learn from their employees. Set up a chain of dialogue that is open and honest and when your employees do something well congratulate them on their hard work. A little gesture will go a long way.
Managing stress in the workplace is a long-term strategy that will help you to keep staff happy and productive, and more likely to stay with your organisation for a long period of time.