How do you create a low stress workplace?

Why do workplaces need to be stressful?

Businesses who think that they get better results if their employees are stressed, working long hours or under pressure are making long-term mistakes.

True, some pressure can be good. The extra adrenaline can help focus and energise. But no one can do their best if they are under constant pressure.

Stress leads to anxiety, mistakes and poor performance. It can damage customer service and undermine team work. And over time, employees will leave to seek a less demanding job.

The cost of recruitment and retraining alone should encourage businesses to put in processes to improve the mental wellbeing of their employees.

So, what are some simple things any business can do to support their employees during those busy times?

Identify trigger points
Are there certain times of the day or work cycle where staff are under additional pressure? If so, do you need to rearrange rosters or duties so that the pressure is more even? Do you need to train employees in additional skills so that they can backstop their team members during stressful points in the day or when their colleagues need a break?

More play, not just work
Team building involves teamwork. A great way of building a team is to organise fun activities that involve everyone, no matter what their skills and experience. These activities will break the day or work cycle and provide a way to reduce stress. They will refocus the team and refresh commitment to the business. Choose the activities wisely though. You don’t want to add stress with the wrong exercise.

Give employees breakout space or activities
Identify a way that employees can step out of the workspace to destress. This may be a staff room or similar. Or think laterally and give the employees a fun way to take their frustrations, such as quick activities they can do to concentrate on something else: darts, basketball or board games.

Reward and praise
Nothing reduces stress like praise and recognition. Stress will build if an employee is working beyond their limits but loses sight on why they are doing this. A quick “Well done” and “thank you” can go a long way.

Set up an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Give your staff professional support. Find an independent counsellor who can help them talk through their frustrations. This is a small cost if you want you employees at work and performing to their potential.

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