A small business can be a fast-paced, intense environment, particularly during the exciting but uncertain startup years. Over time, the thrill of blazing a path can give way to workplace stress and burnout for your employees, which often leads to higher turnover. For a business that invests heavily in staff development, this can be a costly cycle. By integrating stress reduction into your company culture, you can make employees feel valued, boost productivity, and improve retention.
Exercise is an effective way to relieve stress and improve health, but for busy professionals, it can be difficult to find the time and motivation. A wellness program takes away some of the roadblocks by creating an established structure ” instead of designing their own training plan, employees can simply work within your guidelines. In a competitive company that prioritizes productivity, an official program also makes it more socially acceptable to balance work with self-care.
The type of program you choose depends on your culture and employees. A tiny, close-knit team might decide together to work out as a group before office hours or train as a team for an upcoming race. For larger teams, consider a formalized program with a set of activities and incentives that target major sources of stress. If employees struggle to find time to exercise, spring for gym memberships and encourage lunchtime workouts. If your employees are hyper-focused and prone to sitting for hours on end, make it a goal to swap out one email or phone conversation per day with a walking meeting. You might turn it into a fun competition or make everyone a winner by assigning points to each activity and offering rewards for different thresholds.
As an employer, one of the most crucial steps you can take toward reducing stress is to set realistic expectations. In other words, it’s important to reassure employees that you don’t expect them to be superhuman. One way to help your workers manage workload stress is to set challenging goals, but check in regularly to make sure they’re achievable. If an employee is working hard but is constantly behind, for example, it might be a sign that you need to bring in a part-time assistant.
It’s also important to consider the message your own behaviour sends. Do you show up before everyone else and leave later? Do you send work emails in the middle of the night? Do you sacrifice your health and well-being in pursuit of business building? If so, you might be communicating to employees that they need to do the same ” even if that’s not your expectation. If it’s not possible to ease up, adjust your habits to help employees feel more comfortable striking a realistic balance. Leave on time and continue working from home, or schedule work messages to go out first thing in the morning.
As a business owner, it can be tempting to add your input to every task and project. Though your intentions are good, this behaviour often leads to micromanaging, which irritates employees and insinuates that you don’t trust them. Chances are, you hired your staff because they are competent and capable ” whenever possible, step back and let them do their jobs. This reduces stress for everyone and frees you up to focus on higher-level, higher-value tasks.
Once you know employees can work independently, reduce stress even further by building flexibility into the week. Allow employees to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal issues, such as working from home when a child is sick or popping out in the afternoon to take care of a personal errand. As long as work is getting done on time, this system can ease work/life stress and create a corporate culture that’s both productive and caring ” a huge asset in boosting employee retention.