Stress Management for Employees

Employees stress is a growing concern for organizations today. Stress can be defined as a life circumstance in which people face constraints, opportunities, or loss of something they desire and for which the consequence is both unpredictable as well as crucial. Stress is the response of people to the unreasonable/excessive pressure or demands placed on them.

Stress is not always negative. It may also bring out the best in individuals at times. It may induce an individual to discover an innovative and smarter way of doing things. This positive dimension of stress is called eustress. But usually, the term stress has a negative implication and this negative aspect of stress is termed as distress. For instance - When a subordinate is harassed or warned by his superior, unhappiness of unsuitable job, etc. We can say that “Stress causes some people to break, and others to break records.”

Some of the symptoms of stress at the workplace are as follows-

  • Absenteeism, escaping from work responsibilities, arriving late, leaving early, etc.
  • Deterioration in work performance, more error-prone work, memory loss, etc.
  • Cribbing, over-reacting, arguing, getting irritated, anxiety, etc.
  • Deteriorating health, more accidents, etc.
  • Improper eating habits (over-eating or under-eating), excessive smoking and drinking, sleeplessness, etc.

Sources/Causes of Stress
Organizational factors- With the growth in organizational stress and complexity, there is an increase in organizational factors also which cause stress among employees. Some of such factors are-

  • Discrimination in pay/salary structure
  • Strict rules and regulations
  • Ineffective communication
  • Peer pressure
  • Goals conflicts/goals ambiguity
  • More of centralized and formal organization structure
  • Less promotional opportunities
  • Lack of employees participate in decision-making
  • Excessive control over the employees by the managers

Individual factors- There are various expectations which the family members, peer, superior and subordinates have from the employee. Failure to understand such expectations or to convey such expectations lead to role ambiguity/role conflict which in turn causes employee stress. Other individual factors causing stress among employees are inherent personality traits such as being impatient, aggressive, rigid, feeling time pressure always, etc. Similarly, family issues, personal financial problems, sudden career changes all lead to stress.

Job concerning factors- Certain factors related to a job which cause stress among employees are as follows-

  • Monotonous nature of the job
  • Unsafe and unhealthy working conditions
  • Lack of confidentiality
  • Crowding

Extra-organizational factors- There are certain issues outside the organization which lead to stress among employees. In today’s modern and technology savvy world, stress has increased. Inflation, technological change, social responsibilities and rapid social changes are other extra-organizational factors causing stress.

Organizational strategies for managing stress

  • Encouraging more of organizational communication with the employees so that there is no role ambiguity/conflict. Effective communication can also change employee views. Managers can use better signs and symbols which are not misinterpreted by the employees.
  • Your own little world can be a stressful place—don’t get stuck there. And don’t let your employees get stuck in their own little worlds. Force them to step outside of that world and think about something else by going out into the community. Every once in a while, have a community service day. Go out in groups and help others.
  • It can really magnify employee stress to be trapped in one building all day long. Lunchtime is a natural break in the day—and it can be a huge mental health booster to actually take that break. Encourage your employees to get out of the office for lunch. If they can’t get out of the office, create an inviting breakroom space. A change of scenery in the midst of stressful activities can help to re-energize your employees and help them manage their workplace stress.
  • Appreciate the employees on accomplishing and over-exceeding their targets.
  • Most employees know their role in an organization—they know what they were hired for. Unfortunately, many employees don’t know what’s expected of them in that role. Yes, their duties might be clear. But how, when and why they’re supposed to take care of those duties might be a mystery. Make sure employees understand what’s expected of them so they aren’t stressing out about something that’s actually irrelevant to them.
  • It can be expensive up front, but things like speedy internet connection, updated tools and gadgets, and reliable software services are important. Technology can be our greatest friend. It can also be the greatest enemy—and a huge cause of stress in the workplace. It will be completely worth it to put in the time and money to have technology that works for you and your employees, instead of the other way around.
  • Too often do people turn to traditional “comfort” foods when they’re stressed. Indulging in high-fat foods like pizza, pasta, ice-cream and lollies always seem like a great option initially, but it’s a fast one-way track to lethargy, high cholesterol and increased blood pressure. Instead, employers should encourage healthy food choices in order to stave off intense workplace stress. Low-fat, high-fibre and carbohydrate-rich meals with plenty of fruit and vegetables can help provide a natural source of energy, better emotional responses and give employees the nutrients they need to boost their immune system. To do this, employers could provide daily/weekly fruit baskets, well-stocked fridges and organised lunches.