Mastering Employee Stress Management

After two years of broad sweeping lockdowns, pandemic fears, job losses, and businesses closing, it’s no wonder there is such an impending sense of doom amongst team members at many companies. Employee stress management has never been more essential. However, managing team members’ tension can be a touchy subject, and sometimes we can cause more harm than good.

To help with mastering employee stress management, we’ve created this handy guide of eight tips and tricks to help you manage stress within your team more effectively. We’re also going to discuss the different types of stress, where they come from, and how to identify them. 

By identifying the sources and types of stress in the workplace, we can similarly identify the best techniques we can use to manage those stress types. So please stick with us and read through some excellent tips to help you with mastering employee stress management at work.

Tip 1: Understand The Sources Of Stress

External Vs. Internal Workplace Sources Of Stress

There are primarily two sources of stress in the workplace. The first is outside of work. These stresses are carried into the work environment by a team member. The second is workplace stress that originated in the workplace.  It is essential to grasp how to deal with them.

We’ll start by examining the external stressors and understanding how to best manage stressors that are, in essence, outside of our control. By utilizing specific techniques; we can help employees to understand better how to best manage their stressors without allowing them to cause detriment to the work environment.

Tip 2 – Don’t Devalue Home Life Stress

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One of the biggest mistakes many managers make is devaluing the complexity of the robust nature of stress in the home. Some industries are worse than others. In industries where you have technicians who work on the road or industries where you have some complex tasks that are demanding physically, you tend to have a work environment that devalues home life stress.

Understanding the dynamics of your team and how their personalities intermesh with each other is critical in managing how you deal with the issue of external home life stress. Many situations call for candor and empathic understanding with a high level of privacy, so staff does not fear their peers’ ridicule.

By promoting a risk-free emotional workplace environment, we can help manage and control ridicule that may occur. It is also critical to understand the importance that people place upon stressors that significantly affect their lives concerning relationships. Let’s take a brief look at the types of external stressors that could cause team member stress within the work environment.

Relationships

Given the age of the workforce, relationships tend to be a primary factor in considering a potential source of stress for the age group. Therefore understanding that team members may face relationship stress at home is vital in adequately managing your team. Showing,  understanding, and acknowledging their tribulations is again key.

Children

Again due to the age of the typical workforce in most countries, it is highly probable that your team members have children. When dealing with children, a whole new set of potential stresses in the home becomes relevant. 

These can manifest in the way of parents losing sleep and coming into work overtired. Similarly, parents with children at troubled ages may find themselves overly worried, which presents itself in the form of being distracted from their daily duties.

Older Parents

We all know that our bodies tend to disagree with what our minds want more and more as we get older. As we age, we sometimes require the help of others. This help often falls to the children of elderly parents. At the age when parents are typically elderly, their children are of prime age in the workforce.

Team members with elderly parents may require extra consideration when it comes to allowances for days off and allowances for emergency parental care situations. Empathy and understanding are advised.

Extended Family

Life presents us with situations where sometimes extended family require our help or aid. A prime example is an aunt or uncle who could not have children and is elderly and needs assistance. Sometimes these sorts of extended family extra time off work is necessary. Managing these situations effectively involves understanding and acknowledging the additional burden that the team member is facing. Remember to show compassion to your employees as they are typically facing extra stress when requesting time off for these sorts of extended family care situations.

Pets

Many people who care for a pet, such as a dog or a cat, will consider that animal a family member. Given the lifespan difference between these sorts of pets and humans, it is obvious that the person will require time off when that pet passes on.

Managers who do not show understanding to pet owners when their family member has passed away will cause stress for the employee and, similarly, a significant lack of respect towards the manager. 

Therefore, the best solution for managers facing employees requesting time off due to a loss of a pet is to grant that time and show understanding towards the stressful feelings that employees are going through.

Managing Tip

Try to take time to sit and listen to the team member. Often a person will feel better after having someone to talk to about their stress. However, if you neither have the time nor the ability to act as their friend, you can advise that they seek counseling. Discretion is of the utmost importance in this situation as you neither want to offend a person nor make them feel as though you don’t care.

Remember to take the time to listen to any employee’s concerns and acknowledge their situation. Often, when people face stress that they are bringing to work from home, they feel alienated, and this isolation is part of the problem. Acknowledging their suffering removes the isolation. 

Tip 3 – Understand Health Complications – Physical Ailments

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Understanding how health complications can affect mental stability and the overall happiness of team members is critical. It is essential to develop a sense of empathy and understanding to fully grasp what someone may be going through in their life. It cannot be easy to empathize if you have had good health in your life. For this reason, empathy is an essential factor in helping team members through health complications that can affect their work environment.

According to the CDC, 26% of Americans have a disability. With one in four people whose lives are complicated by a disability, we have to understand not to be ignorant of the trials and tribulations they must go through. (source)

Of those Americans who have a disability, 13.7% of them deal with a severe mobility issue that causes serious concerns when it comes to a simple task like climbing stairs. similarly, 10.8% of those suffering from disabilities are facing a cognition disability that impairs their ability to either concentrate, remember or make decisions. (source)

Managing Tip

Similar to dealing with a person facing home life stresses, acknowledging a person’s tribulations due to physical ailment and showing empathy for their situation is critical. However, it is equally vital not to display pity but rather to display support and understanding.

Tip 4 – Understand Health Complications – Mental

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Like physical health complications, our Mental Health complications can be just as if not more crippling than physical ailments. With two years of pandemic-related stressors, it’s no wonder that so many employees are feeling the burden of excess stress both at home and in the workplace. Let’s look at some of the stressors and how we can help team members manage them effectively.

Isolation

Feelings of isolation are not uncommon to those feelings of stress or anxiety. One of the best ways to combat isolation is listening and acknowledging a person’s emotions and suffering from the affliction.

Depression

The WHO estimates that approximately 3.8% of the world’s population faces depression. These numbers tell us that about four people with every hundred employed are likely depressed. This depression will affect their work and presumably even those who work directly with the individuals. (source)

Helping employees to find the counseling they need when facing depression is critical to the employee’s mental health and shows them that you are there for support. However, we must remember that absolute discretion is required, and typically many times, these situations can only be properly managed if the individual comes forward to management with their dilemma. 

Tact and candor are required if management is to bring up the issue in private with the affected employee. Understanding your rights and limitations as a manager or employer is critical in these situations. It is best to show kindness and care and ask the team member if they face stress, depression, or similar feelings before making any assumptions. Oftentimes if a team member trusts you, they will respond positively to your query and accept your support.

Anxiety

Anxiety, quite like depression, is an affliction that no one should have to face. However, many people do encounter problems with anxiety. It can be challenging for a person to empathize with another facing anxiety if one has not faced anxiety oneself. Managers must maintain a caring and empathetic nature when dealing with employees who face anxiety issues.

Pandemic Fears

If it’s one thing, the covid-19 pandemic has done is instill fear amongst the populace. Whether it’s the fear of getting sick or losing a loved one to sickness, the pandemic, both widespread and devastating, has inspired fear in many people.

Workplace environments must be a haven for their employees. Employees should not fear the pandemic at work. Employers are responsible for maintaining the strictest health and safety standards in coordination with local regulations to maintain a safe work environment for their staff.

A clean and healthy work environment will help alleviate the fears created by the covid-19 pandemic.

Tip 5 – Limit Work Stressors

Busy businessman under stress due to excessive work

According to an Everest College Study back in 2013, 83% of United States workers suffer from work-related stress. So, we can see that the pandemic stress levels were at record highs for years before. (source)

The pandemic did not work toward decreasing these numbers. According to the APA’s 2021 Work and Wellbeing survey of US adult workers, 79% were found to have experienced work-related stress. Although this percentage is 4% lower than in 2013, it’s still a critically high number. (source)

Types Of Work Stresses 

Responsibility Pressures

Sometimes businesses must downsize to maintain competitiveness. However, often when a company does decide to downsize, it typically means that employees who survived the downsizing process are faced with greater responsibilities. Whether extra compensation is provided or not, these responsibilities may overload the employee.

Management Pressures

Sometimes managers will develop processes within a workplace that suit their managerial needs but are quite detrimental to the team members who must face the processes. An example of this would be a weekly meeting where team members must demonstrate their weekly achievements in front of a group. In this situation, employees might fear having to disclose a failure to complete their workload in front of others. 

Peer Pressures

Work environments where coworkers tend to tease each other often cause excessive team member stress due to fear of peer ridicule. Managers must pay close attention to the workplace culture and the training of team members concerning what is deemed appropriate and allowable behavior within the workplace. Peer pressure often crosses the lines of harassment and should not be considered acceptable within the work environment.

Job Satisfaction

Let’s face it. There are some jobs that plain suck. If you’re managing people who are performing undesirable jobs, no matter what way you look at it, you’ve got a big challenge on your hands. Job satisfaction can cause job stress and hinder job performance.

Managers can implement reward systems to help soften the blow of undesirable jobs to most employees. Often these sorts of roles require extra compensation to balance the lack of job satisfaction.

Work Environment

Some jobs might not be that bad but might face work environment situations that make them undesirable. Let’s use landscaping as an example. Working outdoors on a nice sunny day seems like a great idea to most people. However, when that sunny day turns into cold, damp rain, there aren’t too many people that would agree that the job conditions are still desired.

Understanding when work environments become uncomfortable is critical for the health and safety of your employees; it is also critical for their stress level reduction at work. Providing the appropriate necessities to face undesirable work environments is an absolute requirement in showing employees your desire for their comfort.

3 Powerful Work Solutions To Managing Stress 

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1 – A Four-Step Solution

  1. Listen 
  2. Empathize 
  3. Coordinate 
  4. Support 

Listen And Acknowledge 

The first and most important thing you can do to help someone in a stressed situation is to listen to them. Don’t try to give them advice; they may or may not react well to it. Instead, listen to what they have to say and acknowledge that you hear them and understand their position. As mentioned earlier, a problem with stress is that people feel isolated. 

Empathize

When a person is upset, if they feel that the person they are speaking with can empathize with their situation, then the upset individual will undoubtedly feel slightly better. Empathy discourages feelings of isolation in those suffering from stress. Showing empathy as a manager or employer is vital for promoting a workplace culture of support.

Coordinate

As a manager or employer, your team looks to you for guidance. When a team member is distraught from stress and comes to you for help, the best thing you can do is listen, empathize, and help coordinate a relevant solution. The solution does not mean that you need to tell the employee or even suggest what the team member’s next move should be. 

However, when a team member is facing depression, stress, or anxiety in the workplace, you must coordinate efforts to help provide that employee with the assistance they need. The assistants may come in the form of suggesting the individual seek medical advice or other similar approved programs.

Support

The final step in the four-step management process of stress in the workplace is to support the team member facing the stressful situation. Support can come in many shapes and forms, including the aforementioned three steps. 

Showing your team members support is vital to growing and maintaining a healthy workplace culture. When employees feel they are supported, they will help support the business’s interests.

2 – Work-Life Balance Rule 

When it comes to work, there are two types of people. Some carry high levels of ambition, and some want to pay the bills. When you combine the two types of people in a single work environment, the mixture is not always suitable. 

For example, a high-energy manager who dedicates themselves to job performance excellence may spend extra time on various projects to increase job output. The issue comes when management expects the same level of ambition and enthusiasm from those working under them. Therefore it is vital to understand the critical differences between personality types within the workplace.

Managing Work-Life Balance

No matter the personality types at your work, a simple rule to follow is to leave work at work and leave home at home. Following this rule ensures you avoid inadvertently pushing team members over the proverbial edge.

3 – Meeting Madness Rule

According to the Harvard Gazette, a study in 2016 showed that stress cost businesses in the US approximately 30 billion dollars. This cost was primarily due to lost workdays. (source

Did you know that meetings are one of the most stressful situations in the workplace? And the corporate world loves its meetings. Meetings can be stressful for several reasons. 

These reasons may include deadlines on projects where team members fear completion failures openly discussed amongst their team.

Another considerable fear for many people regarding meetings is having to express themselves openly in front of others. According to Nemours Foundation, we can infer that it may not be a person’s choice: “But genes also influence certain personality traits, including shyness. 

About 20% of people have a genetic tendency to be naturally shy. But not everyone with a genetic tendency to be shy develops a shy temperament. Life experiences also play a role.” 

We know that life experiences play a role in a person’s shyness. 

Furthermore, we also know that genetic tendencies also play a large role. Therefore, we have to show compassion and empathy for those that feel uncomfortable when presenting information in a meeting environment.

Managing Meetings

A rule we like to follow is to keep it simple when it comes to meetings. Open communication policy is always encouraged, and a simple-to-follow format is utilized. Meetings should be scheduled infrequently, and team members are given maximum notice to prepare. Meetings should not be planned without warning unless an emergency deems it necessary to do so.

What To Do When A Team Member Complains About Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is going to happen. However, we can do plenty of things to prevent it, and there are some things we need to do when it occurs. The first and most essential thing to do when an employee complains about workplace stress is to document the incident.

Incident documentation is central to a business’s overall well-being and growth. Documenting workplace stress situations is as vital as documenting a workplace injury or even workplace death. Although we hope that none of these situations ever occur, life has a way of testing us to the extremes.

A Digital Solution

Documenting stress incidents in the workplace is easy when using a mobile form application like 1st Reporting. 1st Reporting offers a mobile, versatile solution to incident reporting needs for any business. The simple-to-use user interface is intuitive and allows your team members to create reports on the fly depending on their situation.

One of the extraordinary features of the 1st Reporting application are the customized notifications. For example, suppose a team member were to file a stress incident report. In that case, you could have the application deliver an instant notification to you or a manager of your choice when the incident report is completed. 

Other great features of the 1st Reporting app include GPS map location and automated trend reports. These reports allow you to gain insight into incident types and frequencies occurring at your organization.

Stop dealing with stress incidents in your workplace with old pen and paper when you can move into the digital age with 1st Reporting. Try the app today and see how effective and efficient your incidents, audits, inspections, and other documentation needs can be. 

In the case of an employee complaining about workplace stress, documentation is essential, and following any further local regulations or laws is equally essential. 

Ensure you are following all the proper rules and regulations for dealing with employee stress and complaints within the workplace by contacting your local authorities for further information.

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