Published: 29 August 2023

Managing workplace stress is crucial for maintaining employee well-being and overall organisational success. High levels of stress can lead to decreased productivity, burnout, and negative impacts on mental and physical health. When employees are overwhelmed by stress, their job satisfaction and morale can plummet, leading to increased absenteeism and turnover rates. Moreover, chronic stress can hinder creative thinking, problem-solving abilities, and effective decision-making, all of which are essential for a thriving work environment. It’s important to recognise work-related stress as a health and safety issue. A company should take steps to ensure that employees are not subjected to unnecessary stress.

The following are strategies you can implement to ease and manage your employee’s stress.

1 - Create an open culture

Take the time to speak with colleagues on a human level, join team calls, ask people how they are, and don’t be afraid to share aspects of your own life, experiences and how you’re feeling. Be available to answer any questions they have and let your team know that you’re there to listen, too. Create an open-door policy to show you are available to help colleagues experiencing workplace stress, as their mental and physical well-being is not only crucial to their own happiness but also to the success of your business.

This transparency will encourage employees to speak up about their concerns and may help reduce any temptation to overwork themselves. Stressed employees can lead to costly burnout absences – or even turning up to work when they’re not well enough.

2 - Encourage breaks

Set a company culture that isn’t afraid of scheduling breaks. Research shows that the most productive employees work for fifty-two minutes, followed by a seventeen-minute break.

Many employees slip into the routine of working indefinitely without a break due to high workload or have deadlines to meet. Despite urgent work matters, it’s very important to take a break in order to stay sharp and focused. Taking regular breaks and being away from workspaces gives employees time to recharge and rest themselves. After a break, employees are more motivated and are back working with more energy.

3 - Introduce workplace wellness schemes

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are imperative when it comes to combating work-related stress. Employee wellness schemes, such as introducing office gym classes or running company-wide healthy eating challenges are a good way to help employees unwind and feel better about their wellbeing.

4 - Allow for flexible hours and remote working

You hired your employees because you have confidence in their ability to do their jobs well and in a timely manner—so let them prove it. Your office shouldn’t feel like a cell, but rather a place that facilitates getting a job done. Let your employees know that their job is defined by the quality and timeliness of their work, not when they punch the clock.

Allow your employees to work remotely, and give flexibility for start and end times. This freedom is great for office morale, and the policy shows employees that you trust them enough not to babysit.

5 - Alleviate heavy workloads

A heavy workload is physically and emotionally tiring. Simply put, employees have too much on their plates.

Employees have too many tasks, responsibilities, and pressures, and not enough time in their workday to get it all done. They may feel like they need to work long hours to keep up, so it’s important for managers to help set expectations and model behaviour. Here are a few ways managers can be better role models.

Start by identifying any obstacles that could be hindering productivity and remove those that are impacting stress the most. Then, focus on eliminating distractions in the office and try to provide any resources your employees might need to be successful. Go one step further and schedule time to meet with your employees regularly to give them clear direction on the highest priorities and what can wait until next week.

Is there something your employees are doing that’s not worth the time or effort? Take it off their to-do list. Overloading your employees’ schedules with busy work will only bog them down, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated. Use one-on-one meetings to discover what their goals are and help them accomplish more impactful projects.

6 - Set a Good Example

If you make a habit of not overworking yourself, your employees might follow your lead. Be mindful of your work schedule and workload each week. Emulate a culture where it’s okay to leave work at work and prioritize family, hobbies, or other non-work-related activities.

By fostering an open culture of communication, encouraging regular breaks, introducing wellness initiatives, offering flexible work arrangements, alleviating heavy workloads, and setting a positive example of work-life balance, managers can create an environment that supports employee resilience, productivity, and overall satisfaction. Through these strategies, managers can lead their teams toward a healthier, more engaged, and higher-performing work dynamic.