Let’s be honest. We all have days at work that we just hate that place. If it had burned down in an enormous blaze of fire, you would probably be elated. That is until you realize that you need to work and make money.
What can you do to keep your pyromaniac ambitions in check and keep from dousing your fellow coworkers and boss in gasoline and setting the everyone and everything ablaze?
To manage the level of stress you are feeling in the workplace, you need to make sure that you follow these guidelines to ensure that you aren’t overstressed and performing your best at work:
- How you start your day. If you start your day off bad and are in the wrong mindset, the rest of the day at work is only going to compound that stress.
- Speak with your employer about the potential of working remotely or flexi-time.
- Make sure that you understand the company’s chain of command and your role within the company.
- Avoid gossip and negative interactions with your fellow coworkers to avoid making the environment a hostile workplace.
- Be sure to take time to unwind.
If you are one of those people who are so stressed out at work that you begin to fantasize about the destruction of the workplace and everyone who works there, you are going to need to keep reading.
This guide is going to provide you with some potential ways to better manage your stress at work and hopefully prevent you from losing your sanity in the process.
What Effect Can High Workplace Stress Have on My Performance?
The life of an employee. As you know, there are times that going to work is decent and manageable, and actually enjoyable to show up to.
Other times, however, unless you are the luckiest person to walk the Earth, the stress at work can be enough to make you want to quit or rip your hair out of your head.
Stress is inevitable in the workplace, and it’s not all bad. The right level of stress to meet a deadline or get certain things done within a period of time can keep you productive and able to function properly.
However, it’s when there is too much stress at work you are going to have a hard time trying to perform your best and maintain your sanity.
What Are Some Strategies to Help Manage My Own Stress in the Workplace?
To be clear, what creates stress for one individual, may not cause stress in another. As unique as people are, your solutions to address and manage stress in the workplace will also be unique.
There is no one size fits all solution to workplace stress. However, these strategies will be instrumental in helping to manage the level of stress you feel while at your place of occupation.
1. Pay Attention to How You Start Your Day. Be Positive.
When we settle into a career or even into a temporary job while we look for what is going to make us happy, it is important to pay attention to how we decide to start our day.
If you have a family and have to get the kids ready for school and they aren’t completely cooperative or you run into issues like a flat tire on the way to work or horrible drivers, it is important to remain calm.
A lot of people may not realize it but how we start our day and our attitudes moving forward before we get to work is going to dictate the rest of the day for us.
If you start off your day on the wrong side of the bed or in a typical bad mood because you let everything bother you before you actually clocked in, you can almost guarantee that the rest of your day is going to be a long and stressful one.
What Should I Do in Order to Start my Day Off Right?
- Separate your personal life from work. We hear this so often but, it is important to start doing it instead of hearing it.
Even when things at home or on the way to work are not going as planned try to figure out solutions to the problem instead of letting it affect your work.
Try making a plan for dealing with family and try leaving earlier for work to avoid rush hour drivers.
- Remember to eat your breakfast. It is not called the most important meal of the day for no reason, after all.
Eating a balanced meal before we truly begin our day provides us with not only the energy to get through the day into our next meal, but also helps to keep our mood in check and our minds sharp allowing us to work at our highest capacity and potential.
- Be positive, seriously. Sometimes, things are just going to go wrong in the morning and it is impossible to plan for everything. That’s okay! Don’t let it get you down and ruin the rest of your day!
When you have a crummy morning before work, keep a positive mindset and continue about your day as you normally would when everything is fine. Nothing bad lasts forever.
2. Ask Your Employer if it is Possible to Work Remotely or Get Flexi-Time
This may not be a solution for all businesses, however, it will definitely be great for businesses that operate in an office environment.
Allowing employees to work remotely, at least part of the time, can do wonders for the stress level in the workplace and help boost morale.
If you are stressed because you have to make a commute to perform work that you know can be done at home, this is something to talk to the boss about.
How Can I Convince My Employer to Let Me Work Remotely or Get Flexi-Time?
You want to have the option to stay home and work but convincing your employer that they should allow you to do such a thing may prove daunting if you don’t know the right words or selling points to get them to agree to let you stay home and work.
To make that easier, here are some points you can pitch to your employer to get them to look at things from your perspective and think it’s their idea.
- It’s a sign of trust and boosts productivity. Allowing an employee to work from home either completely or part of the time is perceived as a sign of trust in that employee.
In turn, they will be more willing to do the work that is assigned to them and be happier with the ability to spend more time at home with family while completing their duties at work getting more done.
- Allowing an employee to work remotely also can be financially beneficial for both parties. By allowing them to work remotely, you have effectively cut down on the cost that is associated with traveling back and forth in the commute to and from work, they don’t have to worry about running late due to traffic. Furthermore, it reduces operating costs to the business.
- Allowing flex-time reduces workplace stress and boost productivity. The stress of having to be at work at certain times and also the stress of when someone needs to stay home or handle another situation or engagement like their child’s baseball game or a doctor’s appointment.
If an employee wants to keep this privilege, they will ensure that they meet work deadlines.
- Removes the stress of lost wages. Allowing an employee to take off work to make up the lost time another day by working overtime or coming in on the weekend is a great way to keep their stress down especially in terms of finances.
- Remote options and flexi-time actually boosts company profits. Giving employees the option of working remotely at home or providing them with flexi-time is actually proven to increase morale and a company’s profit margin.
3. Make Sure You Know What Your Role in the Company is and the Chain of Command
One thing that will stress anyone out is not knowing who they are supposed to talk to or what exactly is expected of them within their position in the workplace.
Obviously, you want to know who you need to talk to when you have a question or concern and need to know the appropriate steps to get to the right person.
Knowing the chain of command is important because it shows that the business is organized.
I’m not sure about you but whenever I’ve had an issue I need to know who to talk to instead of running around in circles to get an answer for a problem that takes 20 seconds to fix.
That’s like being put on hold for customer service and no one knows who you need to talk to and you get transferred 7 times before you get ahold of the person you need to talk to and personally, that really grinds my gears. It’s unorganized and unprofessional.
When it comes to knowing your role, that is also extremely important. If you are working somewhere and what you are expected to do constantly changes or isn’t clearly laid out in front of you, you could easily become stressed out due to not knowing what your actual purpose is.
How do I Figure Out the Chain of Command and Know What my Responsibilities are?
- Talk to your immediate supervisor. Your supervisor is also probably stressed out as well with people not knowing who they need to talk to for a specific problem or knowing what they are supposed to do.
Talk to them to find out where to get this information or for who you need to speak with regarding a problem. If they don’t know, go above them for the answer.
4. Avoid Negative Interactions and Whatever You do, Don’t Gossip
We all know that person at work, unfortunately. They always want to talk about whatever juicy details that they think they know about someone else’s life and they just have a way of sucking you into the conversation even though you may truly not care about anything they are talking about. This person is a gossiper and no one likes them.
Coincidentally, if you have a gossiper at work, you also probably see quite a few negative interactions among your coworkers. It’s a revolving door.
Drama occurs, then someone talks about it which brings more drama for someone to talk about.
You get it. It’s exhausting and it also negatively impacts your work environment and can create a hostile workplace that is going to stress everyone out including you.
What Can I do About Gossip and Negative Interactions in the Workplace?
- Don’t gossip. The best thing you can do in a situation such as this is to not be a part of it. No one likes being talked about behind their back.
So why do it to someone else. This is the golden rule that we learned about in kindergarten. Treat others how you want to be treated. That extends to times when they can see or hear you as well. If you do, it will come back to bite you.
- Don’t talk about sensitive topics. This is something that a lot of people do without even thinking about it. There are 3 rules to live by; Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about religion. No inappropriate jokes in the workplace.
You run the risk of someone either becoming offended or overly passionate about a topic and it’s not worth the headache. Simply put: use common sense.
5. Make Time For Yourself to Unwind
When you have a long day at work it is important to just sit back, relax, and let go of the day that you had. It is of high importance that you take the time for yourself to do so.
Holding onto what might have made you upset or stressed you out for the day is only going to build, fester, and eventually carry-on over to your next shift at work, leading you to be stressed out, angry, and possibly even disgruntled.
This is true even if you work at home. Sometimes you need to take a step away from the computer, go to the gym and release all the tension that was built up due to tight deadlines or being behind on work.
We’re all human and it happens to all of us, you just have to take a moment to take a breath and move forward.
What Are Some Ways That I Can Unwind to Manage Workplace Stress?
- Try listening to music. Music is a great way to take away the stress of the day, even if you were at the point of seething rage at the moment.
We tend to listen to music based upon how we feel but for some reason, no matter the genre, it makes us feel better. Next time work gets you down, turn on the tunes to pick yourself back up.
- Start a regular exercise regiment. Most people know that exercise provides individuals with a multitude of mental, physical, and emotional benefits, especially when it comes to stress.
Think about that fitness goal you wanted to attain so long ago. Begin exercising to achieve that goal and also to not lose your marbles at work. Remember, fit people, are happy people.
What Information Should I Present to my Boss to Motivate Them to Assist With Managing Workplace Stress?
If you are looking to change the culture within your place of employment and are looking for ways to not only get your levels of stress under control, but your coworkers as well, you are going to need to bring some business knowledge and some thorough research to your employer.
Ideally your boss should want to keep his/ her employees happy, but they might be lost on how to address it themselves.
Here are some solutions to manage workplace stress you can present them to look into along with the facts as to how these types of programs can help with meeting or surpassing that bottom line.
Workplace Stress and Employee Health
Maybe your employer needs to understand how scientists define stress and its effects on people. Send him or her to check out this article by the Cleveland Clinic that gives a basic definition of stress and how it affects people.
William C. Shiel, defined stress as “a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.
Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).”
This means that stress, especially in the workplace, can affect you and your fellow employees negatively.
According to Dr. Shiel, stress can cause or even influence the development and course of many medical conditions, including psychological complications to include:
- Poor Healing
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- High Blood Pressure
- Poorly controlled diabetes and various other conditions as well
This is clearly going to affect productivity within the workplace if employees aren’t healthy due to overwhelming stress.
In addition to loss of productivity due to poor health created by workplace induced stress, there is also the health cost that is going to associated with that.
An employer will have to pay 50% more in health costs for their stress employees. If everyone is stressed, that can quickly add up.
Between the loss of productivity, workdays, disengagement, and high staff turnover, this will need to be addressed.
Stress and Employee Retention
The first negative effect too much workplace stress has on the business that we are going to examine is employee retention.
Having too much stress among the employees in the workplace can be detrimental to the business you work with, your coworkers, and most importantly, yourself.
Some stress is to be expected, but too much stress can cause employees to become resentful of the business and is a serious killer to overall company morale.
Employees (most of them anyway) don’t expect the workplace to be stress-free, but they don’t expect to hate their lives while they are there.
When employees become too stressed, they become disillusioned with the company that they work with, and if one person decides to quit, then you have an issue. If the company culture is stressful and toxic, this is going to come in waves.
One person quitting due to stressful conditions can lead to multiple people quitting and leaving a lot of work that is no longer being completed to be passed on to another individual. This can potentially increase the stress level of that individual to the point of them wanting to leave as well.
Furthermore, when you and your coworkers are too stressed at work, don’t expect to get too much done. An abundance of workplace stress is actually shown to decrease levels of morale within the workplace which is also going to affect productivity.
Let’s be real; how much work do you actually get done when you’re stressed out and unhappy? We don’t imagine it’s as much as you would like.
Workplace Stress and its Effect on Revenue
According to a study by the American Institute of Stress, workplace stress causes an annual loss of 300 billion dollars a year in productivity.
What does this mean exactly? It is more expensive, running a business with a stressful work environment than it is to operate a business in a low-stress environment.
When employees are too stressed, it is difficult for them to produce work at the quality that is necessary for a client or consumer.
It leads to them cutting corners and not making sure that the job was done to the best of their ability due to an unreasonable deadline or them having an overbearing manager.
Having to train and hire new employees on a regular basis creates this same issue as well. When you need to hire another employee when you already had an individual who could do the job well but was overstressed in their position, then productivity and time are lost, fulfilling that job and training them to do the same thing.
If you want to maximize your company’s revenue and minimize your loss in production, you will need to make sure that your employees are not too stressed in their positions within the workplace.
Balancing The Assigned Workload to The Employees Based on Their Available Resources and Abilities.
People cannot work nonstop and not get stressed or have their health affected. Your employees will eventually need to take a break and get some rest.
Their duties and assignments need to be structured in a way that provides them with a work-life balance, which is one of the things that every employee wants.
Balancing their workload actually will reduce stress and boost productivity.
Allow Flexibility in Schedules.
Allowing employees to have some control over their work schedules shows them that an employer trusts them enough to get their work done in a timely manner and also significantly boosts productivity in a business.
Due to reduced operating costs associated with flexi-time and remote work options, aside from the higher rate of production seen, the reduced operating costs actually boosts profitability.
Establish a Culture of Company Loyalty to Employees.
How your company is perceived by your employees is critical in managing workplace stress among your employees.
As a matter of fact, according to entrepreneur.com, 8 out of 10 people say that they would actually take LESS pay within their current position if they view the company they worked for as fair and just. That’s saying a lot.
If you take a look at some of the most successful companies out there, their employees don’t appear to be under a lot of stress.
Why is that? This is because the company learned to place their employees’ needs and aspirations first. The result: Extremely low turnover, happier employees, and high productivity.
Ensuring that your company is viewed positively in the eyes of your employees is extremely important and can eliminate a lot of potential stressors when they feel like their employer truly cares about them and their wellbeing.
Workplace stress can clearly have a lot of consequences. Both for you as an employee, but also for the business where you work.
Taking the initiative to figure out how to manage your stress by joining us in this article is a great first step in learning to get your stress under control and being able to be enjoyable to be around at work.
When you are less stressed out at work, you are able to show up without an issue, focus on the tasks you have before you, and get more done and everyone like a productive worker (they are the ones that usually get raises.)
Thanks again for joining us and remember to breathe and stay calm. You determine how your day goes–no one else can do that for you.