Stress is part of living in the modern world. It is normal for people to experience at least a minimum amount of stress every now and again. However, consistent stress experienced on a daily basis is not normal, nor is it good. Stress causes all sorts of physical and mental health issues ranging from high blood pressure to depression.
A 2017 report from The American Psychological Association (APA) reveals that work issues are the number three cause of stress among Americans. We stress over a lot of things, many of them unnecessarily so – and work is at the top of a lot of lists. The thing is that it does not have to be. There are things that both management and employees can do to reduce workplace stress.
Key Strategies for Management
We will start with management given that managers are supposed to lead by example. Managers play a key role in determining what the workplace environment is like. They can create a highly stressful environment through their management styles. Likewise, they can reduce stress in the workplace by modifying the way they lead.
Here are a few more key strategies for management:
- Practice Listening – Listening to what employees have to say goes a long way toward reducing stress. Note that listening is more than hearing. It involves paying attention to what is being said, comprehending the words, and giving the words some thought.
- Eliminate Ambiguity – Employees often find themselves stressed because they do not know what is expected of them. Managers can address this problem by eliminating all ambiguity in their expectations. Managers should be clear and concise about tasks, responsibilities, etc.
- Be Human – Managers and employees alike are more than just human resources. They are human beings with personalities and identities. Managers can help reduce stress by being human themselves and acknowledging the humanity of their team members.
- Foster Collaboration – The 'us vs. them' mentality creates a stressful workplace by the mere fact that managers and employees do not trust one another. Foster an atmosphere of collaboration instead, and much of that stress goes away.
Key Strategies for Employees
Management can only do so much to eliminate workplace stress. Employees also have to take responsibility for themselves. It is up to them to employ some key strategies for both avoiding stress and limiting the stress they do experience. Here are a few of them:
- Relaxing Activities – Employees can, and should, take some time each day to engage in relaxing activities. According to the APA, nearly half of U.S. adults find listening to music relaxing. So why not invest in a good pair of headphones and spend time listening to some good tunes while eating lunch?
- Regular Exercise – Medical science has long known that regular exercise helps to reduce stress by improving physical health and releasing certain brain chemicals that restore the balance that stress is known to interrupt.
- Talk It Out – Having a close friend or family member with whom you can talk things out can help reduce stress significantly. Just being able to vent is a good thing.
- Focus on the Positive – Stress can be exacerbated by continually focusing on the negative. On the other hand, focusing on the positive can help keep stress at a minimum. Focusing on the positive takes work, but it pays off.
A little bit of stress is normal. Too much stress is harmful to both body and mind. As such, finding ways to reduce stress in the workplace is a smart thing to do. When managers and employees work together to reduce stress, good things happen.