Dealing with Workplace StressPosted: 5th of February 2015 by
Workplace stress is a real problem, whether you are an employee or an employer. With many workers facing the expectation that things need to be done immediately, as well as seemingly ever-increasing workloads, stressed workers are likely to underperform, and may even end up forced to take time off work with stress-related illness. In fact, stress can be seriously bad for your health – as well as for the efficiency of your working life – so is something that both employees and bosses need to take seriously.
The first step in tackling stress is recognising when it is an issue. For bosses this may mean organising regular meetings with staff to check how they are coping with work, and asking if they need any extra help or support. This is particularly true if you work with a team that has minimal supervision – are you just letting the stress build up in your team? For the stressed employee, you need to recognise when the situation is becoming too much, and do something to address it.
Addressing stress at work is generally about priorities and knowing what actually needs to be done now, and what can wait until later. It may seem that everyone is telling you that their work is urgent – but prioritizing your workload, or that of your staff, into manageable chunks can help fight that feeling of being overwhelmed at work. If you can, try to delegate some tasks elsewhere, or just make sure that you know which jobs are important, and which ones can wait. As an employee, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell your boss when things are getting on top. Be polite but firm and clearly state that you have other work to do, and ask which ones your boss would want you to get done first. This will show that you are willing to get your work done, but also indicate that you may be under pressure. As a boss, you need to manage your team and make sure that no one individual is doing too much while others sit idly by.
Taking a break from your work during the day will also help lower your stress levels. This doesn’t mean sitting back at your desk, as you will probably still find yourself called upon to answer the telephone or a query from a colleague. It is much better to take a moment away from your workstation to quickly recharge your batteries – even five minutes here and there can work wonders!
Often, stressed workers feel under-appreciated too, so if you are a manager, make sure you offer positive feedback to your workforce. Just telling your workers when things are going wrong will demoralise them, so make sure you regularly tell them when things are going well.
As well as getting positive feedback, you should also remember that you spend a lot of your waking life at work, so you should try to make it as enjoyable as possible. Socialising with your co-workers will help build bonds between you, and make the working day less of a chore. You might even want to organise something such as a weekly lunch together, or even just a tea-break where you can all take a moment to talk and relax together – even better if you can avoid talking about work while you do!
Sadly, stress can sometimes be overwhelming, so be sure to seek help if you feel you are not coping. If you have outside personal worries on top of your workplace stress, you should speak with your boss to let them know. Many companies have wellness programs which help ensure employees don’t suffer from stress – see if your company has such a scheme too.
Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress (and stay fit at the same time), even a short 15-minute walk over your lunch-break can make a difference, allowing you to clear your head while you burn a few calories.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use your holiday entitlement. Taking days off throughout the year allows you to recharge your batteries, even if you are not planning on going away on holiday. When you are on holiday, try not to check your emails or voicemail from work. Instead just let yourself relax – the work can wait.
Stressed employees are bad for business – so your employer should really be looking to help you battle against it, but make sure to take responsibility for your own well-being too. Remember, if you don’t look after yourself, there is a chance that nobody else will either. Make sure you manage your stress levels, as you are only doing yourself (and your work) a disservice if not.
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