As a boss, you have a certain responsibility for the health of the people in your team. That’s not just about making sure they don’t get physically sick or suffer an accident at work. Your duties also take into account the mental and emotional health of the office. Stress falls right there in the middle of what you’re accountable for. Creating strategies to tackle stress at work isn’t just good for them, either. It can help you cope with all the pressures of being the boss.
Recognizing the signs
Being able to recognize stress in both yourself and your colleagues gives you the opportunity to move on it all the quicker. Visible anxiety, irritability, and cynicism in the job might sound like your particularly ornery co-worker, but they can be signs that stress is starting to surface. As can a certain trouble concentrating. If stress gets worse, it can start showing a lot more physical signs.
For instance, if someone seems like they’re suffering headaches a little too often to be coincidental, it’s more likely they’re suffering from stress than trying to beg off work. Similarly, if you start feeling back pain and joint pain for little-to-no reason, that can be a symptom. Stress can cause your muscles to tense, which can cause all kinds of aches through the body.
Recognize the mental-physical link
Just as mental and emotional pain can transition into very physical pain, the relationship with work vice-versa, too. If someone is suffering aches from how they do work, particularly in the long term, it can contribute to feelings of stress and lost motivation in their work. Make sure that you’re helping them take care of their physical condition.
Let them take a break from their normal working positions from time to time. If they’re sitting at a desk, make sure you’re using the right ergonomic chairs to provide back support. If they spend all day standing up, reduce the amount of strain on their joints and backs by supporting them with office mats.
Plan out the working day
Stress is very often caused by the constraints of working in the office, as well. Particularly if there are jobs that are time sensitive. Feeling like you’re constantly racing the clock is going to create a pressure that isn’t there and often moving deadlines that seem impossible to keep.
Instead of piling work on for employees, help them create working schedules for their days. By measuring and managing what is achievable, they feel like they’re accomplishing the tasks they complete, not just removing them from the pile. Time management also makes the team a lot more productive, which is as good for the business as a whole as it is for the individual.
Not everything is a red alert
Just as it’s important to help them understand that not everything needs to be done this instant, you should help prioritize their workload so they know which needs to be done first and which can easily be put off for another time. Keeping to-do lists is a good way for you and your team to keep track of ll the different tasks that come your way.
However, you should also consider helping them put together a to-don’t list. That is a list of the jobs that don’t need to be there distracting them from the work that matters. Work that can wait to be tackled in those lulls when there’s nothing else left on the to-do list.
Spend less time on busy work
If there’s too much there to do and they can’t just assign it a lower priority, then you need to think about finding other ways to take care of it. Recognizing when you’re asking too much of your employees or yourself is important to make sure that work doesn’t feel entirely insurmountable. To that end, you need to look at the methods done to complete the tasks, not just getting them done.
For instance, consider investing in software that could them get through certain workloads a lot quicker. For an even more efficient take on your business, you can look into automating tasks like HR, payroll, and accounting. Their workload will get immediately smaller when all they have to do is keep an eye on a piece of software as it does their work.
Teach delegation and work sharing
If someone has a lot of work on their plate that they’re having trouble dealing with and someone else is tackling the little errands that have little value, you have to address the discrepancy. As a boss, you need to similarly learn how to delegate. Not only does it reduce the workload for those who need a bit of help.
But it serves as a way of providing on-the-job training for those who are giving the help. It teaches them responsibility, as well as improving the bond between colleagues. After all, the one who’s suffering the strain is going to be very grateful for the help.
Work towards a better environment
That cohesion and team bond are essential to a mentally healthy workplace, too. Social isolation and conflict, especially in environments like the workplace where people spend a lot of time, leads to stress. Sustained conflicts should never be allowed to go on, either should negative gossip, harassment or bullying. You have a responsibility to stamp those kinds of behaviors out legally.
Create a code of conduct that minimizes negative interaction in the office. At the same time, consider team building nights, like offering pizza and drinks for the whole team once a month. Foster positive relationships by getting people to collaborate more often. That way, they’re a lot more likely to feel happier in their current work environment.
Promote a healthier workforce
As we’ve said, physical health has a huge effect on the mental and emotional health of your team. You can’t dictate what kind of lifestyle your employees have outside of the workplace. However, you can do your bit to promote a healthier lifestyle inside it. For instance, you might organize a lunchtime walk, where the whole team (or whoever wants to) joins you on a walk to a café or a lunch area away from the business.
You should also look into limiting the amount of unhealthy, processed food you provide in the premises and provide healthier lunch options instead. As we said, you can’t make health choices for them. However, creating a health-conscious environment can have a transformative influence on your team and yourself over time.
Work-life balance is crucial
It’s also important that you’re not able to dictate too much how their life or yours is outside of work. This goes for keeping an eye on how they’re coping with working conditions. If they’re unable to properly maintain a work-life balance, it will lead to them getting burnt out before you know it. People need the opportunity to unwind and relax after work is done.
You don’t want to lose their talent, but you don’t want to see them go on with work arrangements they can’t fit into their lifestyle. Instead, you should consider offering them some more flexible working options. See if they might do better with different working hours and get over your fear of remote working by letting them have a few days at home.
Don’t push for overtime
Sometimes, your employees will gladly take overtime. Other times they might even ask for. But there are times where they accept it because they believe it’s expected of them. Your authority in the request might make it seem like an order. People feel pressured to do overtime, but too much can be a huge contributor to stress.
Make sure you communicate that overtime is never considered mandatory. You don’t expect them to give more than they already do of their life towards the job. Make sure you believe that, too. It does you no good to have employees who are willing to burn themselves out for the sake of short-term gains in the business.
Talk about it
Most importantly, you should keep an open dialogue on health-related things to do with the job. That includes the stress that can come with the job. People need to understand that it’s a risk and it’s one you’re willing to fight. Even if it means adapting their role or giving them a break from the job. The occasional meeting on stress can help you address difficulties people are finding in their working conditions and how they handle their workloads.
That gives you the perfect opportunity to talk about the problems and solutions we’ve talked about in this article. They need to know that they shouldn’t fear talking about stress and either having it reflect poorly on them or having it not taken seriously.
Stress needs to be treated like a real threat that’s ever a risk, not just a fact of life you can work through. Be sensitive to it in both you and your team and take the steps to fight it. You’ll have a much happier, more satisfied workforce for it.