Spotting employees who are exhibiting signs of stress is step one. Company managers and human resources are usually first to know if there’s conflict at work because they’re:
However, they’re often not equipped to identify whether these behaviors – mostly signs of poor work performance – are stress-related. More importantly, they are not always trained to help employees manage stress even once it is identified.
But first, the signs:
The American Addiction Center lists varying symptoms of excessive stress, categorized under cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms:
Physical symptoms like frequent colds or digestive issues may cause stressed employees to call out of work more often.
Recognizing these symptoms can help alert management or HR to an employee having trouble, but sometimes a more direct approach makes better sense. Conducting employee surveys and interviews is a great method to gauge workplace stress. In addition to identifying stress, employee surveys can also help enhance employee engagement. For sample questions for employee surveys, employee engagement firm Tiny Pulse has a list of 20 questions to ask employees.
Institutionalizing stress management
As different people have different stress triggers, it can be hard to pin down a cause – because not all stress is work-related. To capture all stress concerns, whether work-related or personal, HR Magazine recommends that employers institutionalize ways to manage stress. For example, today, many companies offer and promote health and wellness programs as part of their health benefits packages.
If your company does not offer this benefit, it’s worth considering. According to the Harvard Business Review, employee wellness programs have been proven to provide “hard returns”:
“With tax incentives and grants available under recent federal health care legislation, U.S. companies can use wellness programs to chip away at their enormous health care costs, which are only rising with an aging workforce.”
The article further reports dramatic results experienced by MD Anderson Cancer Center when a workers’ compensation and injury care unit was incorporated into their employee health and well-being department:
“Within six years, lost work days declined by 80% and modified-duty days by 64%. Cost savings, calculated by multiplying the reduction in lost work days by average pay rates, totaled $1.5 million; workers’ comp insurance premiums declined by 50%.”
Stress removal for any size workplace
So what does all of this mean for SMBs with limited budgets and lots of big ideas? Managing stress is probably not at the top of your list at the moment, but all is not lost. Depending on the size of your business, you can still advance workplace stress management programs in various ways. You might consider:
And if these options aren’t possible, simply being more attuned to your employees’ moods and checking in with them on a human level can work wonders.
And if, as the SMB owner, you’re the one under stress? Forbes contributor Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle suggests you accept your own human limitations: “By acknowledging you can only do so much in one day and accepting that your health – including sleep, exercise and eating habits – all contribute to your overall professional performance, you can better manage your day-to-day stresses.”
However you do it, keeping stress out of the workplace – as much as you can – will make your organization a much happier and productive place for all concerned. And that’s very good for business.
This post originated from CommPRO.