7 Steps to Stress Prevention

A study by the American Institute of Stress shows stressed employees incur health-care costs twice as high as their non-stressed counterparts.

By Michael Rich

We all have seen it in the workplace: an employee so overcome with stress he or she struggles to complete work and becomes a distraction to others.

A 2011 study commissioned by the American Psychology Association indicates incidents of stress are commonplace, with 36 percent of employees reporting feeling some degree of stress on a daily basis and 20 percent feeling extremely stressed. Key causes of this stress were lack of opportunities for growth and advancement (43 percent), heavy workload (43 percent), unrealistic job expectations (40 percent), and long hours (39 percent).

These employees significantly impact the workplace. A study by the American Institute of Stress shows stressed employees incur health-care costs twice as high as their non-stressed counterparts. Furthermore, these employees are estimated to cost companies $200 billion to $300 billion a year in lost productivity.

However, by following these seven steps, you can help mitigate stress in your workplace:

  1. Offer an occupational stress workshop. This class should provide ways employees can help cope with and address workplace stress. By doing so, you demonstrate to the workforce that you care about them and want to help them deal with their stress.
  2. Increase employees’ sense of participation in the workplace. Instead of pushing work off to employees, try to give them ownership of the project by getting their opinion and input.
  3. Increase employee skill levels. One of the most common causes of workplace stress is a stagnant job. To avoid this, constantly encourage employees to seek ways to improve their skill sets. A great way to do this is to set aside two to four hours a week during which employees can work on skill development. This will not only help reduce stress, but improve your workers’ value.
  4. Encourage breaks. Advise employees to take a quick break after completing an extra stressful or difficult task. Several short breaks a day can keep employees working at peak performance.
  5. Use positive reinforcement. Consistently tell your employees that they are doing a great job when they are doing so. Also, when correcting behavior or direction, try to reinforce it with positive affirmation.
  6. Employ employee recognition. An employee recognition or appreciation program is another great way to lower stress. Through these types of programs, you can set up employee appreciation days, employee sports teams, employee awards, and more.
  7. Maintain humor. One of the greatest ways to lower stress is to maintain a sense of humor. You need to be able to remain light-hearted with employees and not convey a “This is the end of the world”-type attitude.”

By following the above tips you can help prevent stress and improve productivity at the same time. If you have any other suggestions for improving the stress level of a workplace, please provide them in the comment section below.

Michael Rich is a safety writer and researcher for Safety Services Company, a supplier of safety training materials in North America. To learn more about the safety solutions it offers, visit www.safetyservicescompany.com.

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