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What contributes to employee stress?

The main sources of employee stress are nothing new. Sometimes employee stress has nothing to do with work at all. Issues in a worker's personal life, or in the world, can often lead to workplace stress. Local, regional, or national emergencies or disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic, can add significant stress for both essential and non-essential workers.

That said, here are some common workplace stressors employers may want to think about:

  • Low wages.
  • Long hours.
  • Lack of growth opportunities.
  • Lack of flexibility.
  • Heavy workloads.
  • Short staffing.
  • Unsafe workplaces or practices.

While many of the most common stressors may be beyond an employer's ability to remedy, or may just be part of the job, there are some stressors that employers can do something about. For example, the following stressors are easy to remedy:

  • Unclear job expectations.
  • Lack of mentorship or training.
  • Not asking workers for feedback.

Workers generally want training and mentorship, to know what is expected of them, and to have a say about how their work gets done. Making time to have these conversations with your workers can make a significant difference for both your business and your employees.

How can I spot signs of stress in my employees?

If you are hoping to spot and lower high stress levels quickly, it can help to talk openly about workplace stressors. By making time and space to discuss these issues, you can show your employees that you support them. When employees do not feel supported, they may suffer from more burnout or their performance may be negatively impacted.

To spot the signs of stress among your workforce, look for some of the telltale signs:

  • Do your employees have trouble getting started or staying on task?
  • Do they show a lot of mood swings or anger, or find fault with each other quickly?
  • Do they complain about their workload or seem unsatisfied with their job?
  • Are they taking more days off than they have before?

In these cases, stress may be to blame.

How can I help my employees handle stress?

Employers can help employees handle stress in the workplace in many different ways to address the many different types of work-related stress. Here are five ways employers can reduce stress in the workplace:

  • Offer flexible work schedules. Encourage your employees to keep an open mind about how they work, whether that means working from home or on a job share schedule. Make flexibility part of your culture.
  • Conduct regular check-ins. Check in with your employees often to let them talk about how they are doing. During this time, you can look for signs and causes of workplace stress.
  • Offer enhanced wellness benefits. Offer extra wellness benefits and programs, including mental health benefits. Also, think about offering employees a payment to spend on wellness to help cover costs and get them engaged in stress-reducing activities.
  • Offer Zoom-free meeting days. Add Zoom-free meeting days to the schedule to give your remote employees a break from the camera. This step can help lower stress and anxiety.
  • Encourage taking time off. Don't let your employees give up their vacation time. Instead, urge them to take time off — whether it is an afternoon or a week — to recharge. In fact, planning vacations and time off well in advance can lead workers to be more productive as they have a reward to work towards.

What policies can I use to reduce employee stress?

It is easy to understand that employers who maintain a low-stress culture for employees can enjoy happier, harder-working employees along with lower turnover. Setting the right policies can reduce employee stress and create a more positive work environment.

Many business owners and managers have an open door policy. This typically means that if a manager or owner's door is open, or they appear to be free for a talk, employees are invited to bring them any of their concerns or questions.

Fostering an environment where workers can explain to their manager why they are stressed can make a big difference in reducing stress. Employees who are stressed often benefit from talking about whatever problem is causing their stress, especially when something can be done to resolve the stress-causing problem.

In addition to open communication, flexible work schedules and hybrid work can help bring worker stress levels down. When making policies for flexible work schedules, you may want to consider whether a Work from Home Policy can work for your business. When it comes to flexible work schedules, it is helpful to define both employer expectations and employee responsibilities.

Further, you may want to consider offering wellness benefits or starting an Employee Assistance Program, so employees can seek out help as needed.

How can I solve problems when one employee causes another employee workplace stress?

When employees do not work well together, workplace stress can increase, and not just for the employees involved, but for the whole team. Tension between a few workers can often lower the amount of work that gets done as well as impact overall morale.

Employers may want to get to the root of these situations as quickly as possible. It can help to separate the employees that do not work well together, and try to mediate their differences. If no resolution is possible, or you are concerned about the issue becoming a legal problem, it may be helpful to talk to a lawyer.

If one worker is harassing another worker, or both workers are in the wrong, you may want to review your own policies, or Employee Handbook, and follow your own policies. As an employer, you want to keep the process consistent and fair as you work to find the best solution.

To learn more about how to make workplace policies to lower employee stress, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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