Workplace stress not only takes a physical and mental toll on employees, but it can also take a financial toll on employers. Unchecked workplace stress could lead to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, employee burnout and increased job turnover. There are a number of things both employers and employees can do in order to reduce workplace stress, however. Few workplaces can ever become completely stress-free, but there are known stressors which can be addressed with minimal expense or effort.
One way to reduce workplace stress is to identify the actual source or sources of the stressor. Employees should be encouraged to share specific sources of stress, such as a defective piece of equipment, an unrealistic deadline, a lack of communication between departments, an under-performing co-worker or even an overly critical supervisor. Once a specific stressor is acknowledged, then someone could take tangible steps to correct it. Replacing a defective machine or changing a deadline would be much cheaper than replacing the stressed-out employees who regularly work under those conditions.
Another way to reduce workplace stress is to take full advantage of planned breaks throughout the day. Some workers use a lunch break to take a short power nap, for example. Instead of sitting at a desk or in a break room, taking a walk or performing light calisthenic exercises may help a worker destress. Some employees find doing something personal, such as checking emails or phoning a friend, gives them a sense of control over their time spent at work. Workplace stress can be triggered by feeling overwhelmed by the workload or overly controlled by unsympathetic supervisors.
Some employers deal with workplace stress by encouraging employees to participate in team-building exercises or company retreats. Improving overall employee morale is an effective way for employers to reduce workplace stress, as is taking proactive steps to identify any conflicts between co-workers. Allowing employees to customize or personalize their individual work spaces is also a good way to reduce stress in an office or factory floor environment.
There is also a mental or emotional component to workplace stress which should be addressed whenever possible. Employers should encourage employees who feel burned out or stressed to seek professional counseling. Anger management counseling could reduce the stress level between co-workers or an employee and his or her supervisor. Many people who work in highly stressful positions have difficulty leaving their workplace stress behind them whenever they return home. Working on a more manageable work/life balance while away from the workplace can help many people put their jobs into perspective and not allow work stressors to interfere with their personal lives.