Work-related stress is a legitimate safety and health issue for employees, and it affects both men and women across all industries. While many people experience work-related stress, the issue may be more prevalent and dangerous than employers realize. A stressed employee has the potential of becoming an unsafe worker, and along with this risk comes a hefty price of over $300 billion spent annually by U.S. employers due to the following:
- Decreased productivity
- Employee turnover
- Increased workers compensation costs
- Medical, legal, and insurance costs
Dr. David Spiegel, medical director of the Stanford Center of Stress and Health, said the following regarding stress and safety:
“It’s very clear that a big proportion of safety problems are due to human error, and some of that is related to stress,” Spiegel said. “Life is full of stress. But the thing about handling stress well is being able to appraise it, react to it appropriately and put it behind you. You need to be concerned as a manager for the overall health of your employees.”
Warning Signs of Work-Related Stress
When it comes to maintaining a safe work environment, it is easy to tell if a worker is at risk by whether or not they are wearing safety goggles, a hard hat, or personal protective equipment. However, an intangible ̶ such as a person’s stress level ̶ isn’t always easy to identify. Loss of focus or inattention due to stress is a major cause of injury. Here are some warning signs to look for that may signal an employee’s stress level is unhealthy:
- Aggression or irritability
- Discouragement or disinterest
- Frustration or impatience
- Mood swings
- Decrease in work performance
- Diminished creativity and initiative
- Increase in sick days or absenteeism
- Isolation or issues with interpersonal relationships
Proactive Tips for Reducing Work-Related Stress
Improve employee communications. Make your workers feel involved by getting their feedback on management plans or decisions. Allow them to contribute.
Give employees a sense of control. Give your employees as much independence in the operation of their jobs as is reasonable and responsible. Create an environment where employees have more say over their responsibilities, are involved in safety initiatives, and have opportunities for promotion.
Keep employees in the loop. Eliminate the stress of uncertainty by telling your employees what changes are going on and how they may be affected.
Give employees an emotional outlet. It’s healthy for employees to vent their concerns and frustrations as opposed to bottling up the stress because they fear retaliation, so let them express themselves freely.
Don’t overload your employees. Do whatever possible to reduce excessive workloads that exceed an employee’s abilities. Spread the load.
Create realistic work schedules. Try to be flexible with your work schedules by considering the demands imposed on employees outside the job. Be as creative as possible and show you care. Be approachable.
Define their roles. Ensure that employees clearly understand their responsibilities and what roles they play. Meet with each of them frequently to review their goals and routines.
Give meaning to your employees’ skills. Try to design jobs so they stimulate and give meaning to your employees. Treat each employee as an asset and offer opportunities for advancement and cross-training. Do your best to incorporate all the skills they have to offer.
Socialize. Give your employees a venue in which they can interact socially, such as company picnics, sports, or other activities.
Consider employees’ personal lives. The reality is life doesn’t wait to happen until the work whistle blows at the end of the day. Children get sick, elderly parents need care, family members have special events, and more. Supporting employees by providing options and programs that enable them to meet the demands of both home and work can result in a positive outcome for all involved.
Benefits of Stress Management and Prevention
Taking action and implementing positive stress-relieving measures can have a significant impact on your employees and your business, including:
- Fewer injuries
- Less illness and lost time
- Reduced sick leave, absences, and turnover
- Increased productivity
- Improved morale and job satisfaction
- Improved work-life balance
For more tips on this topic, visit: https://news.leavitt.com/benefits/supporting-employees-in-achieving-work-life-balance/