Despite increasing technological advances, human capital remains one of the most important assets of any workplace. Profitability and productivity are, in large part, dependent on employees who are engaged, motivated to work, and happy in their careers.
In workplaces where the environment is one of tension and stress, the cost to the company is staggering. In the United States, employers lose nearly $300 billion each year due to absenteeism, productivity losses, and employee turnover related to workplace stress. Tension and stress in the workplace are harmful to focus, creativity, productivity, and colleague relationships.
The following four strategies may help create a stress-free workplace to benefit both your employees and your workplace as a whole.
Enact Open Communication Policies
One of the most prominent causes of workplace stress is a lack of communication between upper management and employees. When individuals do not feel safe talking to their managers about concerns and issues, stress and resentment build, gossip and rumors begin, and tension ensues.
Open communication strategies give employees the opportunity to discuss concerns, share ideas, and participate in problem-solving sessions. Such strategies may prevent small issues from becoming major ones. They show employees that they are valued and respected in the workplace. Open communication policies also encourage managers to praise strong performance, increasing employee confidence and feelings of job security.
Focus on Work–Life Balance
Today’s employees often have considerable responsibilities outside of the workplace. Caring for aging parents and/or young children, attending school, fulfilling professional development requirements, coping with chronic illnesses, and participating in community service projects are just a few examples of things that can occupy employees’ time.
Offering flexible work schedules and telecommuting options may greatly reduce employee stress. In addition, nontraditional benefits such as emergency childcare, gym memberships, funding for professional development, and company-wide family engagement opportunities may help employees balance their personal and professional responsibilities, leading to lower levels of stress in the workplace.
Invest in Employee Development
Successful business owners and managers understand that employees are their workplaces’ best assets. A well-trained employee who remains with the workplace is better than frequent personnel turnover. A consistent team with low levels of turnover may also be more cohesive and productive compared to a team that constantly has old members leaving and new members joining, especially if the new employees require training.
Prioritizing employee development is one of the best investments a manager can make. Employees who have access to extensive professional development programs may experience lower levels of stress because they feel confident that they have the knowledge to do their jobs and to advance in their career. Well-trained employees may be more productive as they work to achieve personal and workplace goals.
Encourage Employees to Seek Help
Despite efforts to maintain a stress-free workplace, some employees may still experience life stressors that impact their job performance. It is important to create a workplace culture where employees are encouraged to seek help if needed.
To create this culture, consider developing policies that allow employees to access mental health care referrals and take time off to attend counseling sessions or receive other treatment. The policies may assist employees experiencing stressful situations, such divorce or the death of a loved one, receive the assistance they need to manage their stress.
If employees are dealing with substance abuse and addiction, consider granting them extended leaves of absence so that they can attend rehab programs. The treatment may help employees heal and recover without worrying whether they still will have jobs after they finish rehab. Working while participating in rehab is another option, as many executive rehab facilities allow clients to access cell phones and laptops to maintain contact with their workplaces.
Creating a workplace culture featuring open communication, work-life balance, professional development and career advancement, and employee assistance may drastically lower workplace stress, encourage employee loyalty, and promote workplace success.