Guest post by George Griffiths
Workplace stress is inescapable. That is not always a bad thing, though, as some employees may find operating amidst low levels of stress the optimal environment to keep them motivated and bring out the maximum of their capabilities. Problems start to arise when the stress factors at the office are neglected and left to expand. Being chronically exposed to such a hostile environment can erode employee engagement and lead to a myriad of negative consequences, including loss of motivation, absenteeism, and even burnout.
Burnout has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a legitimate syndrome that can affect workers regardless of the industry sectors and place of employment. The main cause of burnout has been determined to be constant exposure to workplace stress factors. Furthermore, your most engaged employees could be impacted to a far greater degree when compared to the rest of the company’s workforce. No employer would want that, as research has shown that companies who manage to retain their engaged workers enjoy higher profitability, better product output, and a reduced number of safety incidents.
Addressing Stress Related To Recruitment
The importance of having a smooth recruitment process cannot be stressed enough. Your HR staff and recruiting managers are the people ensuring that the right candidates get chosen for the right positions. However, if the people tasked with finding top talent for your company are under a lot of stress, it can lead to bad hires and high staff turnover.
One way to alleviate some pressure from your recruiting personnel is to perform background checks on the more promising candidates. Conducting DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks can help organizations make safer recruitment decisions while also avoiding any potentially unsuitable candidates.
An excellent method of minimising the stress associated with the recruitment process is to have your hiring staff compile a set of standard interview questions. Naturally, each different job position has its own unique characteristics that need to be addressed with specific questions. Having a few set questions can bring out additional clarity on whether the candidate is the best fit for the role as you can easily compare the answers given by otherwise equally skilled individuals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous financial as well as emotional pressure on people. If left unchecked, the increased levels of stress could lead to burnout among your best employees. With the right mitigation strategies in place, however, you can easily prevent burnout from settling in.
Self-care And Wellness
A growing number of employees expect their companies to provide them with stress-relieving and general wellness opportunities. These could include online yoga classes, meditation courses, or a whole variety of different well-being benefits. In addition, managers should monitor the distribution of workload and prevent certain employees from being overloaded with tasks.
Giving timely positive feedback and encouragement is also important in keeping their team members in high spirits, especially when dealing with a stressful work situation. Managers can also help set the right work-life balance, as some employees may struggle during the initial phases of getting used to working from home.
Keep Employees Invested In Their Work
The starting step in fostering engaged employees is to make sure that their personal values resonate with the company’s ones. Managers may have to think of individual approaches when it comes to connecting the role of each employee with the greater company mission.
Don’t stop there! Think of ways to help employees establish an emotional connection to their work while also deriving personal meaning and satisfaction from it. People are less likely to feel stressed when they know that they are being valued as a great asset by the company and that their contribution is appreciated.
There are numerous approaches to maintain a highly motivated workforce while also counteracting any work-related stress. One of the best is to make sure that all employees have ample opportunities to take vacation time. Working without taking any time off can have detrimental effects on employee engagement and lead to low morale, decreased efficiency, and increased time for task completion.
On the other hand, taking a vacation away from the office can result in employees coming back to work rejuvenated and with fresh perspectives. You may need to point out this fact to your top performers. Indeed, the most dedicated employees need a break the most while also being the ones most naturally inclined to insist on continuing to work.
A good approach, in these cases, is to lead by example. Establish healthy behaviors and encourage employees to pay attention to their health and well-being. It is important to manage the overall workload so that employees are comfortable in taking a much-needed vacation and not feeling as if they are dumping their work on their colleagues.
Create Avenues For Social Connections
Work relationships are crucial when it comes to reducing work-related stress and burnout. Due to the sudden shift to remote work, however, many employees may feel isolated and disconnected from their team members and the company, causing stress, frustration, and loneliness. Communication solely through online means also eliminates some of the typical avenues for creating a sense of community and belonging between team members.
To support remote workers, managers may have to think outside the box and come up with solutions that take into account the current circumstances. Try establishing a weekly conference call where employees can communicate in an informal environment, exchange knowledge, discuss past or current tasks, or simply hang out. You may also try to set a specific time when team members that have some quick questions or problems that they have encountered can join you for a private one-on-one video meeting.
Do not neglect to maintain frequent communication, especially with recent hires and employees that have just joined your team. At the same time, you may need to factor in each individual’s personal preferences as some may find the increased number of messages distracting or even stressful, which could interfere with the quality of their work.
Dealing with workplace stress and the associated burnout is an already complex issue that got further exacerbated by the current pandemic. To retain engagement, keep morale high, and avoid high staff turnover, companies need to find and implement appropriate solutions that will provide sufficient support for their employees.