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Stress less: a quick guide to preventing staff meltdowns

Is it possible to keep a clear head all day, every day at work? Can every staff member put in 110% and stay calm all the time? The answer is no, but during crunch times you still need them on top of their game. How do you keep them going? By managing their stress.

There are a wide number of contributing factors that influence performance at any one moment – but workplace stress often plays a leading role.

Stress at work is on the rise. Online course specialists Udemy conducted a study recently, revealing that 52% of full-time employees felt more anxious in 2017 than they did only one year ago.

Of that group, 52% of respondents said changing job responsibilities contributed to stress levels the most, while a further 42% felt a lack of skills for their current role was making them feel more anxious in the workplace.

To help you deal with employee stress, we present to you information to help you understand stress, and some ideas to keep it in check. Don’t get us wrong some stress is positive, but be careful about tipping the balance.

Stress is a real thing

$10.11 billion is lost by Australian businesses every year due to stress-related absenteeism. That doesn’t even take into consideration the financial effects of lower staff engagement, lack of creative output and restlessness that slows productivity when an employee is anxious at work.

That study by Medibank Private also shared that mental stress claims were the most expensive of all health claims in the country, running up to $250,000 per claim and beyond.

Stress can be created by work overload, uncertainty about job security, responsibility that stretches far beyond a team member’s capacity, or lack of resources to do their job, among others. It can also come from a perceived or real lack of guidance from managers or supervisors.

It’s real, and it needs to be thoughtfully considered by employers when running a team of staff.

Be proactive about stress

One of the most efficient ways to crush the impact of stress in your team is being open with them about it. Bring it up proactively, include it in your training and induction packages, and ensure they feel ok about raising it proactively.

In a survey WorkPro conducted in 2014, 74% of respondents said they felt comfortable doing this if stress began affecting their output.

Further to that, our survey revealed 23% of respondents said the best way to reduce stress was be part of a culture where thy could talk about their issues. This increases to a whopping 42% for all responses that referred to a proactive and open approach to stress by managers and employers.

If staff can identify stress and bring it up with you themselves, you’re sitting pretty. It will greatly reduce the effort needed on your part to keep monitoring it, and you can easily get all of the details from them to help create the actions to fix it.

Reward and recognise effort

Sometimes being overworked for short periods is unavoidable, particularly during transitions, large projects and busy times. When this happens, ensure the effort and ability to go above and beyond at these times is noticed – and most importantly, appreciated.

Short-term stress will always happen, and in small doses, can get the positive adrenalin charging which can bring out the best in people, but remember to monitor it and discuss with staff to help manage the load.

Provide regular & constructive feedback

From day one of a new staff member’s employment, make the time to catch up on a regular basis to check in with them on a personal level. This is a tactic that some of the world’s greatest business leaders share is one of their secret weapons to a highly engaged workforce.

Keep the same time, whether it’s weekly, monthly or fortnightly, and do whatever you can to make sure it’s never changed or cancelled. Check in with their workload and how they feel about their progress.

A great way to start this off is with an induction for new staff that help them understand how to notice the signs of stress themselves.

Know that stress is different for everyone

Solving stress can be a quick fix for some, and require ongoing support for others. Keep your eyes and your office door open, stay on the front foot, and always be aware of the workload of your staff. Follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier team who can go to the distance when it counts and come out unscathed!

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