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

Trust

Stop Handcuffing Your Managers

We need to talk… And it is something you are doing, but don’t worry, you’re not alone!

There is a problem in this country. It may stem from a lack of trust, or maybe from our lack of due diligence, but nonetheless, it is a major problem. This problem costs us billions of dollars per year and it’s an easy problem to fix. Left unchecked however it will ruin employee morale and your bottom line. The problem is that YOU are handcuffing your managers!

Each year in the U.S. alone, 82% of the managers chosen for the job either lack the skills necessary or are just a bad fit for the position they are selected for. This is a horrific stat, I know, but it’s true. This has led to many organizations dumbing things down and taking power away from their mid to lower level management, essentially handcuffing them.

Why is Handcuffing Bad for the Manager?

When you handcuff your lower level managers, it immediately lets them know you do not trust them. Distrust leads to lower morale, which leads to crappy performance and disengaged employees which cost up to $500 billion annually in lost productivity. Plus let’s face it, if you don’t trust the manager, why should their team? Lacking trust in your managers creates a systemic problem as teams who don’t trust their manager more than likely don’t trust their CEO.

Handcuffing’s Effects on the Team

Handcuffing your managers leads to poor team performance. When your managers are handcuffed, they can’t effectively deal with poor performers and poor performers pull the whole team down. When poor performers are not effectively dealt with, it lowers team morale, increases your turnover and contributes to the $500 billion in lost productivity from above.

How You Can Help

The number one thing you can do is trust your managers! When you trust your managers their team trusts them and compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout.

 

So, yes you may have chosen the wrong candidate for the job and yes some of your managers may make poor decisions, but handcuffing only exacerbates the situation. Instead, you need to provide them with the tools and training they need to become a manager you can truly trust. Simply handcuffing them will cost your company money, morale, great employees, and lost productivity. Stop handcuffing your managers!

If this something your manager really needs to read? Send it to them anonymously!

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.

Image of a Heroic Young Business Woman
General Management

What is the 18%?

The 18%

You may have noticed a phrase floating around my website. It’s a phrase that has a lot of meaning packed into two words; The phrase is “The 18%.” So what do I mean by this 18% and who/what is this 18%? The answer may actually surprise you, it may even stun you… “The 18%” is the number of managers in the United States that are the appropriate (not necessarily the best) candidate for their position. That’s right, you read that correctly, according to Gallup, 82% of managers in the United States were not the right candidate for the job. 

Are You in the 18%

So now you are thinking, whoa 82% is a lot, but I know I’m in the 18%. I challenge you to honestly reflect on yourself and think “am I really in the 18%?” Thinking of the 18% another way, it is same as saying that 1.8 out of every 10 managers fall into the group. If you are sitting in a room of 10 of your peers are you really in that 18%?

5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Determine if You are in 18%:

  1. Do I actively motivate my team to take action, with most of this action being self-starting by my team members?
  2. Do I assert myself when necessary in a way my team respects and does not resist?
  3. Do I set clear accountability metrics/goals for myself and my team?
  4. Do I actively work to build trust and offer open transparency with my team?
  5. Do I make decisions based on team/business productivity not politics (who I like best, who has waited in line the longest, etc.)?

After reading that set of questions, I would like you to complete a self-assessment, and really think about “am I in the 18%?” If you answered ‘Yes’ to all 5 questions, congratulations, you are in the top 0.01% of all managers, as very few managers are able to do all 5 successfully. Most 18 percenters exhibit 3-4, but not all. If you find yourself answering no to all of the questions, or to all but one, don’t worry you are not doomed to fail! While there are those that naturally born with the talent of the 18%, you can learn to behave and act like the 18%.

The 18%, those who already have the proper talent or behavior for their management position, the 82%, everyone else. Are you in the 18% or the 82%? Are you ready to join the 18%?

Are you ready to join the 18%? Follow my blog to begin your journey and if you are looking for even more 18 percenter knowledge, check out The Harvard Business Review Manager’s Handbook: The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out (HBR Handbooks)