As concerns over COVID-19 persist, working professionals are more susceptible to stress than ever before. As we continue to adjust to the new normal, employees are facing challenges they may have never experienced before, such as travel and health safety, childcare concerns, and establishing a new work-life balance. With employees being expected to make these adjustments, it’s up to managers to step in and think about how employers can reduce stress in the workplace.
As a leader, it’s important to understand how damaging the consequences of employee stress can be. According to the ITA group, stress costs U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, accidents, employee turnover, medical cost, and other unforeseen circumstances. Furthermore, our research has found that over 50% of employees reported not getting mental health support in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you aren’t actively looking for ways to manage your employees’ stress, this shows that you could stand to lose a lot in the long run. So, how can employers reduce their employees’ stress in the workplace? Here are five things you can do:
Work with your team to ease their concerns
As states begin to gradually reopen and ease restrictions, your company may be given the greenlight to allow your staff to return to the office. While some people on your team may be excited to come back in, understand that others may not feel comfortable returning just yet. If possible, reach out to each member of your team individually and ask them about what concerns they have. You may not be able to put them completely at ease, but working with them to ensure they feel heard and understood will help minimize their stress in the long-run. Read also: 6 Strategies For Developing A Return To Work Plan.
Regularly check in with your team
If you and your team are going to continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future, it’s important that you continue to make an effort to maintain regular communication. As a manager in particular, you want to be sure you’re checking in with your team and how they’re doing on a consistent basis. Be sure to ask your team not just about how they’re doing with their work responsibilities, but also how they are doing mentally and emotionally during this time.
As you implement a plan to check in with your team more often, your primary goal as a manager should be to be as transparent with them as possible. In doing so, you’re not only helping them to remain focused and productive, but you’re also building trust between yourself and your employees. In order to practice this kind of transparency, be sure to:
- Outline your expectations of them
- Discuss the team’s goals and how they fit into them
- Discuss why you want them to complete certain tasks
- Outline how they fit into larger company goals
- Give them a personalized plan for career development
Emphasize the need for a strong work-life balance
When employees’ work and home spaces are the same, it can be very challenging for them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. As a manager, you should help your team set boundaries between their personal and professional lives. If you fail to do so, it could ultimately lead to employee burnout and decreased productivity. Set the tone for your team by offering flexibility, leading by example, and encouraging them to sign off at a reasonable hour and take vacation time.
Promote wellness programs
In addition to encouraging a good work-life balance, employers should also promote employee wellness programs. Since it can be challenging for employees to take a step back from their work, managers should step in and encourage staff to take advantage of programs focusing on physical, mental, social, and financial wellness programs. Providing these types of resources shows your staff you value and respect them and, in turn, they will do the same for you!
Interested in more tips for reducing employee stress? Check out our 2021 Hiring Outlook eBook.