We all face it – some of us face it every day: stress. But controlling it & dealing with it is something else entirely. Here are some tips for how to handle the stress that comes with having a job, whether you’re your own employee or someone else’s.
1) Train employees properly to do their jobs.
Nothing makes people more anxious than not knowing what they’re supposed to do and how to do it. Give employees the information they need to feel knowledgeable and comfortable in their job, by giving them proper training to do what you need them to do.
Job shadowing and/or telling someone to “just watch what so-and-so does” do not qualify as on-the-job training; develop a real training program if you need one.
2) Make sure the chain of command is clear.
Another great source of workplace stress for employees is not knowing who to report to. Even if you’re running a small shop where you’re the one and only boss, you can’t possibly be always available to respond to every question and crisis. Therefore, you’ll at least need to designate a second-in-command.
Bigger businesses with more employees may need crew chiefs or department managers. However your chain of command is set up, employees need to know about it, and know who to see or call for more information.
3) Listen to employees – and show them that you’re doing so.
Throw out your ‘Suggestions’ box. Little slips of paper gathering dust aren’t effective.
Employees will be much happier and feel less stressed if they feel their employer cares what they think. There are two steps to achieve this:
Step one is to actively listen to employees. Be approachable. Mingle with them and meet with them regularly. And when you converse with them, listen actively. Give them your full attention (put that phone or tablet away!) and do more than just make noises; ask them questions and solicit their suggestions when appropriate.
The second step is to follow up on what employees have told you. If the employee had a question you weren’t able to answer on the spot, find an answer and get back to them. If the employee had a suggestion you felt was worthwhile or a valid complaint, take action and let them know about it.
4) Empower employees to make some decisions.
No one enjoys feeling helpless or stupid. That’s what happens to employees when you take the power to make small decisions out of their hands. Imagine how you would feel if your job was to make sandwiches and a customer wanted to know if they could have mayonnaise instead of mustard on their sandwich and you had to say, “I don’t know. Let me check with my supervisor.”
Having to stop what you’re doing and ask someone for approval is especially stressful when you have to ask about something that others see as being in your domain (mayo and mustard, anyone?). Let employees make the decisions they need to make to do their jobs effectively, and their stress levels will plummet.
5) Show poisonous, negative employees the door.
Gloomy Gerties. Whiners. Gossip miners. Besides interfering with workplace productivity, people who are continuously negative drain other employees’ positive energy, making them more prone to stress.
And then there are the truly poisonous employees who go out of their way to make other people miserable and/or take delight in sabotaging projects. Lower the collective stress of your workplace by getting rid of employees who are sources of stress to others.
Now take a deep breath, get back to your desk and chill out.