The Stress Factor: How to Eliminate Stress in Your Workplace

21st October 2014

We have previously written about how to create zen in the workplace, however the problems that stress causes seem to be hard to meditate away from. Here, in anticipation of European Safety Week, we take a look at how to eliminate stress at work in order to maintain a content and productive team.

What causes stress?
Stress has become the main cause of absence at work, with a quarter of workers saying that their job is the primary cause of stress in their lives. Team that with family, financial and lifestyle issues and a melting pot of anxiety is created, which causes no end of financial and emotional strain on employers as well as workers. European Safety Week starts on the 20th October, and looking at the way in which stress impacts employees can make working environments a safer place to be. With over 550million working days lost annually through absenteeism from mental health conditions brought on by stress and anxiety, this is a problem that needs addressing quickly and efficiently.

Stress in the workplace can be caused by a number of factors, including lengthy working hours, lack of communication between manager and team or unrealistic targets and deadlines. Nearly half of workers say they need help with managing their stress, which is a massive percentage, signifying the need to rethink the office atmosphere and job expectations. If an employee feels they are being pressured to achieve goals that do not match their knowledge or ability, or there is a fundamental lack of communication within a team, then the chances of them burning out increase considerably.

How can employers help?
Firstly, there are ways in which management can help their staff identify and achieve a healthy balance between what is termed stress and what is termed as a challenge.

- Look at a workplace objectively
- Assess the risks posed to staff on a daily basis
- Communicate with staff after assessing daily risk, this may mean rethinking workloads and targets
- Make individual changes; assess employees personally to see whether there are changes that can be made to their specific job role.

Secondly, there are physical changes which can eliminate stress, even trying to do something as seemingly simple as redecorating the office can lower stress significantly…

- Atmosphere at work is key in creating a happy team; encourage them to bring in family photos or plants and flowers to brighten up the office.
- A lack of natural light can impact the way in which an employee works, so it is important not to be locked away from the world outside, but rather to use light and life as inspiration to complete high-pressure tasks.
- Painting the office in a relaxing, warm colour can help workers feel more relaxed, which can help eliminate stress.

The most important aspect though, is communication– if your staff seem depressed or lacking in motivation, it is your job as a manager to ask why, assess the risks and make changes to help your staff achieve contentment at work.

This can not only benefit them as employees, but the productivity of a business as a whole.

"550million working days lost annually through absenteeism from mental health conditions brought on by stress and anxiety"