April is Stress Awareness Month. It is essential to recognize the importance of managing stress. Stress is one of the biggest public health challenges we face within our community. The need to reduce stress is often not taken as seriously as other medical problems. Stress that is left unmanaged may lead to other health problems.
The #1 cause of stress is job stress. PaySmart recognizes the stressors that our small business owners face. We understand the importance of supporting a workforce that experiences job-related stress.
Employees tend to call off more and be distracted when they are experiencing stress. Job stress leads to a decline in productivity. Decreased productivity can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line of a small business.
The costs associated with job stress can show up in unfavorable health insurance premiums. Employees may incur increased out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Our workforce has changed tremendously over the past few decades. More women are reentering the workforce after having children. Employees are stressed trying to balance personal and professional responsibilities.
Employers choosing to offer flexible schedules allowing work from home arrangements have helped reduce their employees’ stress. They’ve also retained top talent. Additionally, managers have decreased turnover by allowing flexible work arrangements. Many cite increased productivity.
Covid-19 created stressors for employees that employers did not anticipate.
- Many workers were frustrated with managing additional personal responsibilities. Personal responsibilities may have included caring for children that were learning from home. Workloads still needed to be completed.
- Essential employees were required to report to work. They may have been anxious about increased exposure to the virus from co-workers and customers.
- Employees that were furloughed were encouraged to file for unemployment benefits. These workers felt stressed in response to navigating a challenging system. The uncertainty of what the future of their employment would look like caused panic and anxiety.
- Mandated social distancing requirements added additional employee responsibilities that increased workloads.
The path to economic recovery post-Covid-19 should include plans to support workers who have experienced increased stressors.
Employers that plan to support their employees in decreasing their stress in the workplace will be more successful.
Here are five tips to decrease employee stress in the workplace:
1. Offer opportunities to increase financial literacy
Workers can get stressed over their personal finances.
It is important to remember that everyone’s situation is different. Many employees have received stimulus checks. Everyone did not receive a stimulus checks. Employees did not receive the exact amounts.
Nonetheless, employees may be turning to one another to understand the best use for these additional funds. They may not be differentiating that their co-worker’s finances are not comparable.
Employers that provide workers opportunities to obtain financial literacy can support employees in managing their paychecks. Increased knowledge could increase their confidence in making decisions. Financial literacy ultimately results in decrease stress.
Employees who may be in need could benefit from local programs. There has been an increase in households that suffer from food insecurity. Providing information about resources could help bridge a gap alleviating stress.
2. Provide opportunities for growth or advancement in their current roles
Employees cite feelings of contentment when tasked with challenging responsibilities and opportunities for advancement.
New opportunities may include a specialized role. It could be the opportunity to supervise even a few employees.
Leaders who have a one-on-one with employees may find that their employees have different talents they were unaware of.
Employees may express a desire to learn something new.
This could benefit the worker and the company at large. Employees can feel increased value. Managers can alleviate some of their workloads.
3. Managers can evaluate workloads to lessen the burden on some employees
Being overworked is a very common stressor for many employees. The pandemic has added responsibilities that include additional workloads and different tasks.
Managers that distribute workloads have a tough job. Supervisors delegating assignments to employees in a small business setting often have limited resources. Managers may not be distributing workloads evenly. Leaders may even be unaware that there is an imbalance in assignments. Employees are all unique. They have different skillsets and abilities.
Survey your employees regularly to understand how much work they have completed. Identify outstanding assignments. Assessing an employee’s completion of tasks and outstanding assignments will help evaluate each individual’s capacity.
Managers can better understand if they need to redistribute assignments to avoid burdening one or two employees.
Individuals who seem to be underperforming may benefit from additional training. Managers that support an underperforming employee are decreasing stress and improving production.
Co-workers may have been picking up other workloads. The extra workload impacts the pressure of the entire team.
Recognizing an imbalance in workloads and correcting the situation decreases stress for all parties involved.
4. Managing expectations by communicating effectively
Often overlooked and extremely important in managing job stressors is the management of expectations.
Managers can assume their subordinates understand expectations. Managers that do not communicate expectations allow for interpretation from their employees. Unclear expectations can cause misunderstandings and frustrations.
Employers adding additional responsibilities need to ensure their employees understand what responsibilities fall under whom. Managers should communicate deadlines. Workers should be made aware of assignments that are high priority.
“When communication increases, stress decreases.”
5. Encourage breaks and time off
The American workforce perceives that working through lunches and staying late adds value.
Studies show that employees that take regular breaks are more productive! Frequent breaks can allow workers to return to their environment relaxed and refreshed. Breaks are an essential strategy in reducing stress in the workplace. Suggesting a walk or providing a break room can encourage employees to decompress.
Employees that take regular vacations can rejuvenate. Reentering the work environment refreshed allows employees to deal with situations that may cause stress more effectively.
With April being Stress Awareness Month, small business owners can collaborate with their team, determining areas causing stress. Planning to put together an action plan to address stressful areas can reduce stress in the workplace. Small business owners may reap the benefits of a more productive workforce.
PaySmart is a payroll provider located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, supporting small businesses in the Central PA region. We are dedicated to helping small businesses take care of their payroll needs. To learn more information about how PaySmart may provide payroll solutions, please contact us at 717-766-1777. Our New Client Concierge is waiting for you!