Photo of people working on their laptops
Team Development

4 Ways to Lower Your Employee’s Workplace Stress

We all experience workplace stress from time-to-time and that’s completely normal. But for those of us that consistently experience workplace stress, it can cause a lot of problems.

So how can we managers lower the amount of workplace stress for our employees? Well, we have done our research and found the top 4 ways to do just that!

Stress Relaxer #1: Consistent Scheduling

Employees who work inconsistent schedules, experience some of the most extreme workplace-related stress. According to Holmes-Rahe, each time an employee experiences a major working hours shift they are assigned 20 points. Once that employee gets to 300 points for the year, the chance of that employee having a major health breakdown in the next 2 years increases by about 80%.

There are 52 weeks per year and assume your employee gets a week vacation, that means they work about 51 weeks per year. In the typical type of companies where employees experience this type of workplace stress, their schedules change weekly. So 51 * 20 = 1020, this is before we include the changes to their eating habits that we must consider with schedule changes, the stress of that week vacation, and any home stressors. We find that this employee has already experienced enough stress for 3.4 years above 300 points. Do you maybe understand how this type of scheduling is actually really dumb now?

So, basically, you are almost guaranteeing your employees to have health issues by using systems that promise to “increase productivity” and “lower” labor costs.

Please… please, bring your brain to work and rather than letting the computer puke out a schedule, spend some time making that schedule human.

Stress Relaxer #2: Control

We have found that much of the workplace stress people experience actually comes from the lack of control they feel over their job, how it’s done, and when they work. Finding ways to increase their control over their job and how it’s done is one of the quickest ways to lower workplace stress. Try and find opportunities where you can allow your employees to decide how to complete their job, of course, this can’t come at the cost of safety. Can you allow your employees to write their own schedule, or at least give you a schedule preference that you can then plug into that labor “reducing,” efficiency “improving” scheduling software?

Stress Relaxer #3: Vacation/Breaks

Your employees need to, let me rephrase that, have to take breaks from work. Do not allow them to not take breaks or not use their vacation…… No person, no matter how hardy they think they are, can work all the time with no consequences. When your employees refuse vacation time or break time, their productivity decreases, their energy level decreases, their love for their job decreases, their attitude turns negative, and in highly tedious jobs, your employee’s attention to detail decreases by the minute. Ensure your employees have productive breaks by setting them up to win. You can do this by putting adult coloring books (affiliate link) in the break room, ensuring the break room has plenty of natural light or if that isn’t possible, ensure it has nature present, real or fake. Having just a few plants will make your employees feel better and lower their stress.

Stress Relaxer #4: Reduce Loneliness

Wow, shocker, I know, but this one is huge trust me. Lonely employees are well lonely, they know it and everyone knows it. In fact, lonely employees are perceived by their co-workers to be underachievers, regardless of their actual performance. Add this to their already lonely state and 68% of lonely employees say this contributes significantly to their workplace stress. Further, a 2011 Study by Sacramento State and Wharton found a direct correlation between lower performance and workplace loneliness, so maybe their co-workers are right?

One of the top and the most important ways you can combat workplace loneliness is to be ready to talk to those employees as soon as you recognize it. Encourage them to talk, if to no one else than you. Share a story, a moment you were scared to speak up, maybe when you started in your current position. Build camaraderie and make them feel welcome, then encourage your employees to do the same.

Do you have remote employees? Be sure to make them feel like part of the team. Reserve 5 mins at the beginning of a meeting to have them “catch-up” with the team and be sure to surprise them on important dates/events with something special from the team.

 

Additional Resources:

Consistent Scheduling

https://hbr.org/2018/03/research-when-retail-workers-have-stable-schedules-sales-and-productivity-go-up

Control

https://hbr.org/2017/12/how-the-gap-used-an-app-to-give-workers-more-control-over-their-schedules?referral=03758&cm_vc=rr_item_page.top_right

Workplace Loneliness

https://hbr.org/2017/06/burnout-at-work-isnt-just-about-exhaustion-its-also-about-loneliness

business man trying to choose plan a or pan b
Team Development

Mentoring or Training, Which Should You Use?

I recently began a mentorship with a colleague of mine, and it really got me thinking. Here is the story.

I had been thinking for a while about how to effectively help this colleague get the promotion and hours they desperately wanted, but which they could never quite obtain. This thought process sent me down a path of trying to determine the differences between training and mentorship and which I needed to use. In the beginning, I realized that this employee had been haphazardly trained and I thought that I needed to just transfer knowledge whenever possible. The problem was that when it came down to it, the majority of the time, my colleague already had the knowledge they needed. They just chose not to act usually out of apathy or distrust of themselves. After coming to this realization, I began to explore other methods of helping this employee, and that is where I found mentoring. I’m sure you have found yourself in similar situations before. So how can you tell the difference between when it’s time train and when it’s time to be a mentor?

First, let’s talk about the differences.

Training:

Works to increase your skill set

Allows you to be more comfortable using your skills

Does not always have a timeline on when you will use your acquired skills

Aids your continued improvement of existing skills

Has a short-term focus

The ownership of the process lies with the trainer

Mentoring:

Works to increase your understanding of your role or direction in your life/career

Increases your awareness of yourself and life in general

Is an evolving plan/process and adapts to the situation

Boosts your confidence in yourself and your decision-making abilities

Ownership of the process lies with the mentee/learner

So now you know differences, when should you use what?

Use Training if

The person involved needs skill enhancement or skill improvement

The person involved needs more confidence due to a lack of understanding or existence of the skills required in the situation causing the issue

This will be a short-term relationship where you give the person what they need, and they will then go on their way

Use Mentoring if: 

The person involved is unsure of their role in the organization or life or is uncertain of their direction moving forward

The person involved needs more confidence due to a lack of self-esteem or other reasons, not due to a lack of skills or understanding of said skills

You expect to have to work with this person over the long-term to cause an ideological shift

If this quote applies to the person: “You already have what you need locked up inside, you just need to find the key to letting it out!”

 

A Helpful Acronym

The next time you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure if you should merely train the person or mentor them, remember UNI.

Unsure – The person is unsure of their role/direction

Confidence – The person needs more confidence for reasons other than lack of skills or understanding of said skills

Ideology – The person needs an ideological shift to enhance their performance/behavior.

If the answer is yes to UNI, you need to mentor them!

I hope this provides the information you need to make a good decision between the two. My goal at the Half Hour Manager is to provide you with actionable and practical information and none of that high-level unactionable crap.