Managers have the tools to decrease stress

Recent studies show that stress has reared its ugly head in 2012, as 42 per cent of senior managers from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) surveyed by Zurich’s quarterly SME Risk Index complained about it as a serious problem.

The article highlights that addressing workforce challenges and risks is an essential part of achieving better performance and greater growth for UK SMEs. Stress is an issue that can create major health issues in the workplace and has cost the UK economy billions a year in lost revenue. One would think that in times where we need SMEs to prosper, the major issue stress poses would be tackled with vigour.

But they aren’t. How can we hope to achieve growth when employees suffer from low morale and don’t turn up for work? A positive impact on employee health will translate to less absenteeism, increased productivity and a decrease in health insurance claims.

Companies should be taking steps and precautions to prevent stress as it could also end up effecting the company’s long-term sustainability. To prevent this problem from happening, the origins of stress should first be understood. 

Here are three significant factors that heap stress onto your employees:

1. Heavy workloads

For a short period of time a heavy workload will cause extra stress for an employee but everyone gets a breather when the economy falls back into place. But instead, it has caused a prolonged workload that poses a serious threat to the well-being of the company’s workforce. It reduces efficiency as employees need enough time to process individual tasks in an orderly, efficient manner. Too much work can demoralise employees and deprive them of sufficient time to organise and manage their thoughts.

2. Long working hours

This is by far the biggest cause of stress. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, a combination of stress, raised blood pressure and unhealthy diets stemmed from long working hours may cause thousands of  serious health problems. As it is directly linked to a tired brain, employee’s will suffer from concentration lapses, low concentration and poor productivity.

3. Job insecurity

This is directly linked to the ongoing ambiguity of the future. The recession has caused employees to increase working hours and decrease their breaks as a means of trying to ensure their jobs are safe. They are not only concerned about the hours they put in, but the output of their work as well. This can lead to depression and, in turn, a lack of productivity. Employees could stand to lose important benefits, such as health insurance and retirement benefits, that are tied to employment.

The way you manage your company has a significant impact on your employees. As a manager you can influence the amount of support given to your team, whether through a slight decrease in demand or implementing a rewards system.

Due to the position of a manager at the frontline of the workforce, they are equipped to address the issue of workforce stress, minimising the impact on the organisation. 

So, in what ways would a manager be able to reduce the levels of stress in the workforce?

Control 

Employees will cope with stress more efficiently when they have some flexibility in how and when they do their work.

Talking 

Give your team the opportunity to voice their concerns and keep them informed about good and bad news concerning the company.

Benefits 

Introduce a competitive personal leave or vacation system. Let them strive to recharge their batteries and come back to work refreshed. Also, make sure that you maintain the current level of employee benefits as their stress levels will increase when they see them reduced.

Acknowledge 

Reward employees for their accomplishments. By ignoring them, you will lower employee morale and talented workers will seek work elsewhere.

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