If there’s anything that reliably inhibits productivity and wellbeing in the workplace, it’s stress.
Cortisol, the hormone responsible for producing a state of stress, is notoriously high in employees who feel overworked or overstimulated during work hours.
When you bring this stress home after a long day at work, it can feel suffocating, and the cycle can repeat the next day at work leading to chronic stress. Needless to say, this isn’t good for either the company or the individual, so what can you as a manager do to ease stress in the workplace?
1. Reduce Distractions
The modern office is full of distractions, which can have a detrimental effect on your employees’ mental health and productivity levels.
The phone rings constantly, the meeting goes longer than expected, the colleague can’t talk to customers without raising their voice. These are just a few of the distractions many office workers face on a daily basis.
Even though these events in isolation don’t seem significant, together they create a symphony of undesirable noise, noise which can prevent some employees from focussing on the task in front of them.
You might think that the effect of these types of distractions on a worker’s ability to concentrate would be minimal, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Experts say that it could take up to as many as 23 minutes to regain your attention after becoming distracted. This isn’t always the case of course, but wouldn’t you, as a manager, like to reduce the workplace distractions as much as possible to ensure your workforce isn’t completely derailed every half an hour or so?
Reducing distractions isn’t always easy, but here are some things you can try to see if they have an impact of worker productivity levels:
- Cut down on the number of meetings
- Only send emails when essential
- Conduct briefings before the work day officially begins
- Blacklist social media websites or use remote worker monitoring software
2. Establish Clear Expectations
If you find that your workers often complain of workplace stress, or you notice that they get easily flustered throughout the day, it could be a simple case of unclear expectations.
Ask any freelancer what the most important piece of information they can receive from a client is and they’ll likely tell you its expectations for the work assigned.
Well, imagine going through all the effort of completing a task based on your assumptions of what the client wants, only to realize afterwards that it isn’t what they expected you to do. This can lead to wasted hours and endless frustration.
The same goes for the average workplace and employee.
If expectations are unclear, then it can place a lot of pressure on workers to make things right which can lead to an unhealthy amount of stress.
3. Foster a Friendly Work Environment
One of the best ways to release stress in the workplace is to provide your employees with plenty of opportunities to let their hair down and socialize with their colleagues.
We’re social beings, after all.
Setting up a semi-regular workplace activity or encouraging meetups can help build cohesion among workers and reduce stress.
You can also make the workplace more relaxed by trying not to judge employees too harshly.
A drop in productivity doesn’t have to be resolved with stern words, it can be an opportunity to listen to the employee and find out how you can help them get back on track.
If you look at your workforce that way, as a group of individuals doing their best, then you’ll likely have much more positive interactions with them which can ease the pressure on them as they will feel less stress around their performance.
4. Introduce Relaxing Activities
Mindfulness has swept the world in recent years, as it’s no surprise really.
Connecting to the present moment may seem like a luxury you can’t afford in a cutthroat industry that hinges on worker productivity, but we’d argue that you can.
When you focus on worker wellness, you show your workforce that you care about them as individuals and don’t think of them as mindless productivity robots.
Introducing mindfulness and wellness activities into the workplace doesn’t have to cost an arm and or a leg, either, as it can be anything from hiring a masseuse for the day to bringing some puppies into the office.
By helping workers to decompress and destress during the work day, you can inspire greater levels of productivity and loyalty.
5. Adopt a Flexible Approach
As a manager, you have to be adaptable to changing times, and in recent years that means understanding the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the mental health of many workers.
There are other factors, too, such as the rise of remote work, which has made many people want to take their work home with them.
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that the office environment is no longer appealing to a lot of workers.
While you may not be able to revamp the way your company works, you may be able to offer your employees a hybrid work model which allows them to work from home for a few days out of the week.
This flexible work schedule means everything to some workers, as it allows them the freedom to work on their own terms, and spend time away from the busy and at times stressful office workplace.
Without colleagues around, many workers may just put out their best work when given the chance to work remotely.
As a manager, it’s on you to manage workplace dynamics and get the most out of your employees.
There’s a right and wrong way to go about this though.
Pushing your workers harder and harder may well increase productivity in the short term, but it may also lead to burnout.
Instead, you should try some of the strategies outlined in this guide which can help you foster productivity while also reducing stress.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.