5 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Shop & Why You Should Care
Life is full of stresses, many of which we can easily handle. In fact, some stress is good for us. What psychologists term Acute Stress is that feeling we sense when met with the unexpected. This is the famous “fight-or-flight” response that helps us work through difficult situations and avoid danger, such as a potential accident. Our heart rate increases, our muscles tighten and we feel that rush of adrenaline that quickens our reaction times. Once the episode passes, our bodies return to a normal state.
However, if we have prolonged or frequent episodes of such stress, it can be damaging to our health. This is termed Chronic Stress and, in prolonged or severe cases, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, produces both mental and physical problems. According to the American Psychological Association over half of U. S. workers surveyed indicate that they feel severely stressed at work and that such stress reduces their effectiveness on the job. So much so that the study estimates that employee stress costs American employers $300 billion each year in lost productivity and legal and medical costs.
The most common reasons for on-the-job stress are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work expected, interpersonal conflicts, seeking a balance between work and personal time, and concerns about job security. So what can you do to help your workers, your staff and yourself reduce stress? Here are a few suggestions:
- Clearly communicate expectations. A major source of stress for employees is that they don’t fully understanding what is expected of them. If they aren’t sure about how they are being judged, they may worry that they are falling short, so be specific about what constitutes a good job.
- Don’t overload. We’re all trying to be as productive as possible, but we also need to be realistic about how much one person can achieve. Some people’s personalities are such that they stress if they can’t get everything done by the end of the workday. If you pile too much work on them, they will never feel satisfied with a day’s efforts and the stress will build up.
- Set priorities. If you give your employees a list of tasks, let them know the order of importance. That way the employee will address the most important items first, and that will reduce stress for both of you if everything on the list isn’t accomplished during that shift.
- Be open and honest. Nobody likes to be kept in the dark, and if you create a culture of keeping secrets from the employees, the overall stress levels will rise dramatically. Your people need to know what’s going on and how it will affect their livelihoods.
- Keep your workplace healthy and happy. Establish and enforce policies to keep your shop free from hostility, bullying and sexual harassment. Not only will this reduce stress, it will also reduce the risk of legal problems.
Life and work are never completely stress-free, but applying these common-sense actions will help alleviate the chronic stress that can get between your employees and the productivity they want to deliver.