What can leaders do to create a less stressful workplace? [Part 2]
By Madison Hanscom, PhD
Leaders are in a unique position where they can make positive changes that influence the lives of their employees. Consider the following strategies:
• Continually take a pulse. If you don’t check in with employees regularly about their workload and experience, you won’t have any idea about stress levels. When things are overwhelming and more stressful than usual — listen and understand why. This way you can isolate the factors that cause a negative experience. When things are less stressful than usual — also understand why! Particularly in times when workload is high, but stress is low. Those are the times to learn from. Most likely there are plenty of resources in place for employees to meet demands.
• Don’t let stress become a currency. In some workplaces, people like to brag about stress. There’s an unsaid norm that if you are overworked, stressed, and busy, you are successful. Try to challenge this notion! Working smarter (and not harder) has been shown time and time again to create longer term prosperity.
• Build in moments to take a breath. There are often days when employees are expected to “be on” for 8 hours straight or longer. Whether they are working with customers, sitting in back to back meetings, or working on a long task, it is important to build in micro breaks that allow people to reset. An example is to keep meetings 50 or 55 minutes instead of 60 minutes to allow for a pause between sessions.
• Give as much flexibility and autonomy as possible. When you give people control over their work, this is great for stress and it shows you trust them. You just have to make sure they have the right resources to do it autonomously. Think about how you can be more flexible with where they do their work, when they do it, and how it is done.
• Provide positive feedback. Let people know when they are doing a great job. A positive remark can make all the difference and brighten someone’s day.
• Improve communication and set expectations. People want updates and want to be connected to the big picture. Communicate with them and be transparent.
• Share mental health resources. Look into mental health resources for your employees and distribute helpful links. Many insurance plans are offering upgraded support in this time of need. There are also hotline numbers and virtual counseling options.
• Encourage boundaries. Let your employees know it is ok to set boundaries, and then respect the boundaries they set. Remind employees it is ok to spend some hours offline and disconnect from work in order to rest and recuperate for longer term success. You can help by resisting the urge to send emails at 8pm or on the weekends, for instance.
• Demonstrate your commitment. When you take care of your own mental wellbeing and you show a commitment to your employees, this illustrates what is valued by the company.
At Propulo Consulting, we care about the health and wellbeing of all workers. We partner with you to improve the world of work using the latest insights from research. Our team has the expertise to help your business build a safer and healthier culture.