How to reduce your employees’ stress levels at work

High levels of stress among your employees can have a serious impact in your workplace—on the employees themselves, the rest of the team, and your wider business. While your chief concern is likely to be with the wellbeing of your employees, the myriad of effects that stress can have on a business mean that it is worth addressing whenever it occurs.

And of course, while you may not be able to do much, if anything, about certain stressful circumstances outside of the workplace, you can make changes that ensure that their job isn’t one of things they’re worrying about.

Workplace stress is a serious problem in the UK, where annual HSE figures estimate that 595,000 workers suffer from job-related stress, depression, or anxiety. The effects of these conditions include over 15 million working days missed. It’s not hard to see how that could affect a business through sick days and the knock on effects on fellow employees who need to cover for their colleagues.

So how can managers ensure that their businesses are doing enough to reduce workplace stress and support employees who may be struggling? To find these answers, we need to evaluate where the workplace stress is coming from.

Identify the causes of workplace stress

The HSE found that workload was the most common cause of stress by some distance, accounting for 44% of all cases. Next up was a lack of support, which caused a further 14%, and workplace bullying at 13%. Do a little research, ask your employees, spend time monitoring them and you will hopefully have a good idea of what are the biggest causes of stress.

Build a better workplace environment

Addressing these three causes can often be achieved together by building a more collaborative and supportive environment. Colleagues with better interpersonal relations are more likely to mesh well as a team and work for each other, rather than just themselves. This lowers the chances of interpersonal conflicts and stressful bullying incidents. [Improving teamwork] will not only make employees feel supported but can help lighten their loads as work is shared out more effectively.

Give individual issues dedicated attention

Of course, team-building exercises alone may not fix all of a business’s problems, and some issues, like bullying, will likely need to be firmly tackled head-on with a no tolerance policy. Support mechanisms should also receive particular managerial attention. Holding small group or one-to-one sessions with employees can help in learning and brainstorming ways for management and their colleagues to best support them.

Empower employees with flexible scheduling

Giving employees more of a say in their working hours has been shown to be one effective way of combating workplace stress. This has shown to be especially true when flexible scheduling helps to combat the negative effects of non-standard working weeks, as is the case for many shift workers.

While the negative impacts of shift work on the health and wellbeing of employees are well documented, arising mostly from disrupted circadian rhythms and reduced social and family time, allowing them a greater measure of control over the hours they work can help alleviate some of the problems.

It’s conceivable that a given employee might be stressed because their schedule doesn’t line up with that of a spouse or partner who’s a fellow shift-worker. Without changing their weekly hours at all, providing more flexibility may allow them to coordinate their shifts better to enjoy more valuable time at home. Alternatively, employees may be happier if they are able to choose days off to line up with important social or family events.

What’s more, you don’t need to totally cede control of your rota to see these benefits. Every bit of increased flexibility will come with its own benefits, while you can ensure your business isn’t disrupted by the scale of the changes.

For example, Findmyshift provides various options for managers wanting to empower their employees. You can allow them to request changes, cancellations, and swaps within their schedules. It’s then straightforward to view the impact these changes would have, as well as what other employees could cover for them, and then approve or deny requests as appropriate.

The level of flexibility provided to employees may even be reward and recognition for good performance or long-term employment.

Promote healthier lifestyles to combat stress

Encouraging your employees to live a healthier lifestyle will naturally lower their stress levels, benefiting you and them. While you can’t control what they do with themselves outside of work, there are various changes you can make to the work environment that will have a positive impact.

Getting employees to be more active during their shifts, whether that’s through team exercise, on-site facilities, or encouraging employees to take a walking lunch or meeting can transform their physical wellbeing. Providing more nutritious snack and meal options can improve moods by combating sugar “highs” and even ensuring proper ventilation at work can make a difference.

However you look to combat workplace stress, it’s clear that happier employees will benefit your business.

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.