Whatever the cause, and however it manifests, workplace stress continues to be a problem for employers and employees alike. Workplace stress costs U.S. businesses roughly $300 billion per year as a result of absenteeism, reduced productivity levels and employee turnover. It can also lead to an increase in accidents if not monitored properly. As managers and supervisors you need to look out for workers exhibiting signs of stress, but since no two employees will exhibit identical signs and symptoms, your job isn't an easy one.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Stress:
The signs and symptoms of job stress vary from person to person and one must be cognizant that experiencing one or more of the symptoms below does NOT indicate that an individual is seriously stressed. It is important for managers and supervisors to look out for behavioral changes (like the ones outlined below) that can be linked with stress.
- Feeling anxious, irritable or depressed
- Apathy or loss of interest in work
- Problems sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension or headaches
- Stomach problems
- Social withdrawal
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope
- Poor work performance
Tips to Reduce or Prevent Workplace Stress:
Since the causes of workplace stress vary greatly, so do the strategies to reduce or prevent it. According to the Mayo Clinic, effective time management is a primary means to a less stressful life. Below are some tips to help stressed employees reduce stress and become more productive.
- Plan each day. Planning your day can help you accomplish more and feel more in control of your life. Write a to-do list, putting the most important tasks at the top. Keep a schedule of your daily activities to minimize conflicts and last-minute rushes.
- Prioritize your tasks. Time-consuming but relatively unimportant tasks can consume a lot of your day. Prioritizing tasks will ensure that you spend your time and energy on those that are truly important to you.
- Say no to nonessential tasks. Consider your goals and schedule before agreeing to take on additional work.
- Delegate. Take a look at your to-do list and consider what you can pass on to someone else.
- Take the time you need to do a quality job. Doing work right the first time may take more time upfront, but errors usually result in time spent making corrections, which takes more time overall.
- Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. Work on them a few minutes at a time until you get them all done.
- Practice the 10-minute rule. Work on a dreaded task for 10 minutes each day. Once you get started, you may find you can finish it.
- Evaluate how you're spending your time. Keep a diary of everything you do for three days to determine how you're spending your time. Look for time that can be used more wisely. For example, could you take a bus or train to work and use the commute to catch up on reading? If so, you could free up some time to exercise or spend with family or friends.
- Limit distractions. Block out time on your calendar for big projects. During that time, close your door and turn off your phone, pager and email.
- Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. A healthy lifestyle can improve your focus and concentration, which will help improve your efficiency so that you can complete your work in less time.
- Take a time management course. If your employer offers continuing education, take a time management class. If your workplace doesn't have one, find out if a local community college, university or community education program does.
- Take a break when needed. Too much stress can derail your attempts at getting organized. When you need a break, take one. Take a walk. Do some quick stretches at your workstation. Take a day of vacation to rest and re-energize.
- Ask for professional help. If you're too frazzled to think about trying any of these tips, it's time to ask for help. Does your life feel totally out of control? If so, contact your employee assistance program (EAP) at your workplace for assistance, or discuss your situation with your doctor.
Part of building an effective culture of safety is ensuring that your employees are healthy and able to do their job effectively. Arbill has the programs and technology to help identify and support employees who may need help or are at-risk.
Contact an Arbill Safety Expert today to learn more, and ensure that every employee makes it home safely after every shift.
Have a Safe Day!