5 Strategies to Help Employers Reduce Workplace Stress
In today’s working world stress management is becoming increasingly important. A recent surge of burnout syndrome following the COVID-19 pandemic has brought light to the seriousness of workplace stress.
Burnout syndrome is emotional, mental, and physical fatigue caused by chronic stress. The consequences of workplace burnout include reduced productivity and motivation, loss of interest, employee absenteeism and employee turnover. To combat the prevalence of workplace burnout Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (2022) has implemented a new code of practise for employers as of April 1st, 2023. The code and regulations require employers to provide a psychosocially and physically safe environment by managing stressors in the workplace.
How Can You Assist With Stress Management?
Stress can be managed by implementing adaptive coping strategies within the workplace. Coping strategies are tactics that are used to reduce negative emotional responses created by stressful situations. Adaptive coping strategies have a positive effect on the emotional stress response. Unfortunately, some coping strategies hinder the emotional response further, these methods are known as maladaptive coping strategies. Examples of maladaptive coping included self-isolation, avoidance, or drug and alcohol use. Employees trend toward maladaptive coping strategies however, assistance from employers in the form of human resource practices and healthy leadership is suggested to guide employees in the direction of adaptive coping.
Ideally, employers should be encouraging adaptive coping strategies to manage stress however, a problem lies within identifying which coping strategies are adaptive and effective. A 2003 study categorised more than 400 ways of coping. For this article five types of coping strategies have been identified as adaptive coping strategies which are effective for work related stress: cognitive reframing, meditation or relaxation, professional development, development of organisational skills, and social support.
Strategies based on cognitive reframing aim to reduce emotional distress by changing the way the employee perceives stressful situations and the emotional connections to stress.
- For example, stop looking at mistakes as a failure but instead see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Relaxation strategies prevent fatigue by allowing the employee to rest and allow time for processing emotions.
- A simple relaxation strategy for employers is to encourage employees to take proper breaks, only log on during working hours, log off on time, and utilise paid leave.
As a coping strategy professional development improves confidence and efficiency thus reducing the emotional distress associated with previously stressful situations.
- Encourage employees to undertaking training to grow work-related knowledge and skills. This could be with senior team members or external organisation; one-on-one or as a group.
Development of Organisational Skills
Development of organisational skills involves the improvement of planning and ability to follow through. Organisational skills reduce the occurrence of stressful situations through better prioritisation and efficiency.
- There are many organisational apps and how-to books to help in this area. Sit down with your employees and discuss which options are going to work best for their personality, workload, and type of work.
Social and peer support reduces stress by offering a place to go for help on tasks as well as an outlet to discuss rising emotions. Additionally, peer support groups can reduce stress through relaxation and having fun.
- Allowing your employees to chat during the workday foster’s important relationships between colleagues, eventuating in trusting and long-lasting bonds.
- Offer your employees a private place to go and discuss emotional issues with a trusted colleague.
- Promote friendships within your workforce by organising fun and casual events for everyone to attend.
Simply put, employers can increase efficiency, boost employee attendance and retention by assisting their employees to applying the above strategies to better cope with stress and reduce the likelihood of burning out. By steering employees away from maladaptive coping and towards adaptive coping strategies, you will see improved business outcomes as well as a happier and healthier team.
Written by Ausure’s Claims Team Leader, Rebbecca O’Rourke