Workplace stress is a common issue that affects individuals at every level of an organisation. While a certain amount of stress is normal too much stress can lead to burnout, health problems, and a decrease in overall well-being. As such, it’s important for individuals and companies alike to take steps to manage and reduce workplace stress. In this article, we’ll explore some best practices for managing stress in the workplace that you can easily implement, including tips for promoting work-life balance, creating a positive work environment, and providing employee support and resources. By implementing these best practices, organisations can help promote employee well-being and create a more productive, positive work environment.
What is workplace stress?
Workplace stress is a dynamic that occurs when an employee feels overwhelmed and out of control. It can be caused by a number of factors, such as long work hours, tight deadlines, high expectations from management, workplace conflict, or simply the demands of the job itself. Workplace stress can lead to physical and emotional health issues such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and even burnout. It can also have a negative impact on employee morale and job performance.
What does workplace stress have to do with workplace safety?
Workplace stress can increase the risk for workplace accidents and injuries. When employees are stressed, they may be more likely to make mistakes or take risks that could put themselves or their colleagues in danger. Additionally, high levels of stress can affect an employee’s ability to work safely and responsibly, leading to potential workplace hazards.
In Australia, in most states, the business is also responsible for the psychological health of their workers. This means that it is the business’ responsibility to take steps to mitigate any stress-related risks in the workplace.
What are some signs of workplace stress?
Workplace stress can manifest in a variety of ways. Symptoms may vary from person to person, but some common signs of workplace stress include:
- Trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks
- Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
- Poor job performance
- Low morale or motivation
- Mood swings, irritability and anger
- Increased absenteeism or lateness
- Anxiety and depression
- Trouble sleeping, fatigue and exhaustion
How can workplace stress affect a business?
Workplace stress can have a negative impact on an organisation’s bottom line. Employees who are dealing with high levels of stress may be less productive and less engaged in their work, leading to lower job performance. In addition, workplace stress can lead to higher absenteeism rates due to illness or burnout, which can result in decreased productivity and reduced profits. Finally, workplace stress can lead to a negative work environment, which can decrease morale and make it difficult for an organisation to attract and retain top talent.
What are the benefits to a business to try to reduce workplace stress?
By reducing workplace stress, organisations can create a healthier, more productive work environment. This can lead to improved morale and job performance and ultimately result in increased profits. Additionally, reducing workplace stress can help an organisation to attract and retain top talent by creating a positive working atmosphere that encourages creativity and collaboration.
Finally, reducing workplace stress can also help to improve employee satisfaction, as employees who feel supported and valued will be more likely to stay with the organisation in the long run.
What are some ways businesses can reduce workplace stress?
There are many steps businesses can take to reduce and manage workplace stress to not only meet their legislative obligations, but also just generally for the good of their workers and their businesses.
Here are some tips for creating a work environment that supports employee well-being:
Promote a healthy work-life balance:
Encourage your employees to take designated breaks throughout the day, set realistic expectations for workloads, and provide flexible scheduling options when possible. Ensure that employees are taking adequate vacation time, and encourage them to disconnect from work during their off-hours.
Some companies don’t allow emails to be sent on weekends or after work hours, to help reduce the demands on their employees.
If overtime is necessary, limit the number of hours employees work and provide compensation for any additional hours. Ensure that employees are taking regular breaks and being given adequate rest in between shifts. Another option is to offer time off work for overtime hours worked, this is called comp time or time in lieu.
Create an open dialogue:
Encourage employees to communicate openly with their supervisors and management. Make sure they feel comfortable speaking up if they have any concerns or issues that need to be addressed. Regular check-ins can help identify any potential problems before they become overwhelming. Encouraging constructive feedback can also promote a positive work environment. Employees should be able to voice their opinions without fear of repercussions.
Provide employee support and resources:
Companies should ensure that they have a system in place to provide employees with access to mental health counselling, professional development opportunities, or other resources they may need. Additionally, employers should regularly check in with employees to assess their stress levels and make sure their welfare is being taken care of.
If a business doesn’t have the resources to provide employee assistance programs, there are many free government programs that they can encourage their employees to use. Simply by letting employees know that help is available can go a long way.
Create a positive work environment:
Set clear goals, provide recognition and rewards for employees who go above and beyond, and foster an atmosphere of cooperation. Employees want to know that their hard work is being appreciated and that they are making a valuable contribution to the team. A simple thank you can go a long way.
Finally, employers should make sure that the workplace is free from any forms of harassment or discrimination. Employees need to feel safe and secure in their work environment. Make sure everyone is aware of the policies and procedures put in place to protect them.
Build a strong safety culture
No worker wants to go to work every day wondering if they are going to be injured or see someone be injured. Employers should take the necessary steps to build a strong safety culture by educating their employees on how to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace, and having clear policies and procedures in place that are followed.
Creating an environment of safety will help reduce stress levels as workers won’t have to worry as much about their own health or the health of their co-workers. Read Safety culture – What is it and why is it important? to find out more.
Lead by example
Managers and supervisors need to be aware that their behaviour sets the tone for others. Showing employees respect and kindness can go a long way in creating an environment of well-being. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself as well, by getting enough rest and maintaining healthy habits.
If required managers and supervisors should recieve formal training in how to be a manager, this will help them lead by example and learn how to deal with difficult conversations and behaviours. Understanding that not everyone works the same way and having an open mind can make a huge difference.
Promote effective time management
Providing employees with the necessary tools and techniques to help them manage their time better can go a long way. Encourage employees to break tasks down into manageable chunks, set deadlines for themselves and prioritize their workloads. This will make sure that everyone is on the same page and stressing out less about completing projects. Giving employees flexibility in their schedules can also help reduce stress as it allows them to have more control over their time and work/life balance.
Promote healthy lifestyle habits
Noone wants to be lectured to by their boss, but employers should still encourage their employees to take care of themselves. Promote healthy eating habits, provide healthier snacks in the office and provide access to gyms or other fitness facilities.
Even simple reinforcement such as acknowledging various health promotion events or distributing handouts about health and wellness can go a long way in helping employees become more aware of how to manage their stress levels.
Educate employees about workplace stress
Educating employees about stress in the workplace is essential. Helping them to recognise the signs of stress and providing them with tools to manage it can be a real life-saver. Providing information on things like breathing exercises, yoga and mindfulness can go a long way in helping employees better manage their stress levels.
Set realistic goals
Employers should make sure that they are setting realistic goals and expectations for their employees. It’s important to be aware of each person’s individual abilities and limitations, as well as the workloads they can realistically handle. Setting overly ambitious goals or timelines will only lead to more stress in the workplace and mistakes which in the end will cost time and money, and may even result in someone being injured.
Acknowledge workplace stress
Finally, it is important to acknowledge the fact that workplace stress exists. We all experience stress from time to time and it’s perfectly normal. Therefore it should be taken seriously and discussed openly with a view to finding solutions as to how we can better manage it. It’s also important to acknowledge that despite planning there may be times where work must be completed on a tight deadline, and having a plan in place to help manage this situation is essential.
Managing Workplace Stress Toolbox Talk
It is essential to have regular toolbox talks to discuss workplace stress. These sessions will help to ensure that everyone in the organisation understands the impact of workplace stress on their lives and how it can be managed. It’s a great opportunity for employees to voice their concerns, ask questions and share ideas about how best to manage the stress levels at work.
These Toolbox Talks should be held regularly and the topics covered should include time management, stress recognition and how to create a positive and supportive work environment. Employers should ensure that these sessions are as interactive as possible so that everyone feels comfortable speaking up and contributing their thoughts.
When delivering a workplace stress toolbox talk it is important to:
- Make sure the discussion is interactive and that everyone is encouraged to voice their opinion.
- Remind employees of the importance of managing their stress levels and taking time out of their day for self-care.
- Encourage employees to talk openly about any workplace stress they may be experiencing.
- Provide practical tips on how employees can manage stress in the workplace.
You can find out more by reading 5 Toolbox Talk hints and tips to make your life easier
By taking these steps, employers can ensure that their employees are better equipped to handle the stress of their job and that they have a healthy and supportive work environment. This will not only promote a happier workplace but also reduce absenteeism and improve employee morale, productivity, and engagement.
How often should a Managing Workplace Stress Toolbox Talk be held?
It is recommended that employers hold a Managing Workplace Stress Toolbox Talk at least once a year, or more often if needed. It’s also important that these sessions are tailored to the specific needs of each business and its employees. This will help ensure that everyone in the organisation understands how best to manage their stress levels and have access to the resources they need to do this.
Remember that workplace stress can have a huge impact on employee morale, productivity and engagement, so it’s important to make sure these sessions are part of any workplace health and wellbeing strategy. Taking the time to talk openly about issues such as stress can go a long way in creating a healthy work environment for everyone in the organisation.
Also, remember to make sure to record the date of each toolbox talk and who attended for future reference. This will help to demonstrate that the organisation is taking workplace stress seriously and that it is dedicated to creating a positive and supportive environment for its employees.
In conclusion, workplace stress can be a major issue for business owners and their employees. Workplace stress is something that must be taken seriously and managed effectively. It is important to be aware of its causes and recognize how it can impact productivity, morale and profitability.
The reality is that we will never be able to eliminate stress in the workplace entirely. No matter what measures are taken, there will always be unforeseen challenges and tensions that arise. But by creating an environment that encourages communication and collaboration between employers and employees, businesses can actively work together to reduce workplace stress.
Implementing wellness practices such as providing flexible work arrangements or offering external mental health resources can have a significant positive effect on stress levels. Through proper management and support structures in place, business owners can take an important step towards ensuring that their organisation is both happy and healthy.
How can Safe-R Outcomes help your business?
Our Professional subscriptions contain many essential documents including:
- WHS Management Plans / Safety Manuals
- SWMS (if the job entails high risk tasks)
- a range of SOPs, Registers, Toolbox Talks, Checklists and Policies
These can all be downloaded and are not blank templates, so can be used immediately.
We also provide Induction training to help you on-board new employees and contractors.
As you can see it is all done for you so it makes it nice and simple. You can find out more on the Industries and Professions page.
If you’re concerned about the time commitment and knowledge required to implement the correct documents, procedures and training for reducing workplace stress, Safe-R Outcomes can help. We strive to reduce the time and cost for businesses to implement their legally necessary safety requirements.