6 Steps To Reduce Workplace Stress
Smart companies are awakening to the fact that the workplace is a major source of stress and are taking steps to minimize the effects on their employees. Stress in the workplace can have a significant cost to employers in terms of lost productivity, increased sick days and escalating workers compensation claims all of which lead to decreased revenues. In the coming years, reducing workplace stress can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line.
Causes of Workplace Stress
When looking at the issue of workplace stress it is important to understand that not all people react to stressors in the same way. Some people are not fazed by certain causes of stress,
while others can be immobilized by the same exact circumstances. For your workforce causes of stress can include:
- Lack of control over their work
- The inability to be able to use their acquired skills
- Low job security
- High performance demands
- Low pay
- Little opportunity for advancement
- Limited decision making power
- Lack of mental stimulation
- Machine pacing
- Long hours
- Shift work
- Environmental conditions
- Jobs that require very little skill requirements
- Poor work conditions
- Social prejudice
Effects of Stress
The effects of job related stress experienced by blue collar workers can have serious consequences for physical and mental health. As the body reacts to workplace stressors and increased levels of anxiety, physical reactions take place. Heart rates increase, blood pressure rises, and the immune system weakens. Over time, with prolonged stress, the body becomes susceptible to many mental and physical illnesses including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Migraines and other headaches
- Muscle tension
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
In addition to the physical ailments listed above, injuries due to repetitive movement can cause back, neck and shoulder and leg problems.
How Can Companies Minimize These Issues
The first step for companies is simple; to acknowledge that workplace stress exists and is having an impact on their employees’ well-being. Some simple steps to improve the quality of the work environment can include:
- When possible provide scheduling flexibility for employees to help balance home and work responsibilities.
- Promote and support healthy lifestyle practices in your workplace.
- Encourage workers to work out and provide education on a healthy lifestyle
- Provide healthy snack and beverage alternatives in the break room.
- Use job rotations, so that employees do not get stuck in routines and boredom.
- Evaluate safety procedures and ensure that employees are well trained to handle job tasks.
While these are just a few ideas to get you started, the process begins with an honest assessment of your company’s work environment. Make sure to get feedback from your managers and most importantly your workers. Also avoid the common trap that many companies fall into by beginning a process to change and then abandoning after a couple of weeks or months. Giving lip service or a lackluster attempt to change can have more serious consequences than not starting at all. Employee health and wellness programs are vital to a productive workforce. Smart companies understand this and already have these programs in place. How about you?