Be Proactive About Your Job And Your Workplace Duties
When we feel uncertain, helpless, or out of control, our stress levels are the highest. Here are some things you can do to regain a sense of control over your job and career.
Talk to your employer about workplace stressors. Healthy and happy employees are more productive, so your employer has an incentive to tackle workplace stress whenever possible. Rather than rattling off a list of complaints, let your employer know about specific conditions that are impacting your work performance.
Clarify your job description. Ask your supervisor for an updated description of your job duties and responsibilities. You may find that some of the tasks that have piled up are not included in your job description, and you can gain a little leverage by pointing out that youve been putting in work over and above the parameters of your job.
Request a transfer. If your workplace is large enough, you might be able to escape a toxic environment by transferring to another department.
Ask for new duties. If youve been doing the exact same work for a long time, ask to try something new: a different grade level, a different sales territory, a different machine.
Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absenceanything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and gain perspective.
Dont Let Workplace Stress Get The Best Of You
Managing a teams doesnt have to be a daunting process. Nor does it have to lead to stressed out employees.
If you set up your system and projects in an organized fashion, set clear expectations, document projects appropriately, and give your employees the right tools to succeed, youll achieve the results youre seeking.
This post was originally published December 17, 2014, and updated May 2019.
Work Shifts Need To Be Reasonable
Too many hours of demanding work will wear down and exhaust employees. Everyone needs time away from work to rest, recharge, and take care of other duties. A work/life balance helps maintain physical and emotional health and improves productivity. It also helps employees to manage stress.
Do This: Limit work shifts 10 hours or less and make sure employees have adequate time to rest before their next shift. This will improve morale and productivity, and reduce the risk of work injuries.
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Tip : Beat Workplace Stress By Reaching Out
Sometimes the best stress-reducer is simply sharing your stress with someone close to you. The act of talking it out and getting support and sympathyespecially face-to-facecan be a highly-effective way of blowing off steam and regaining your sense of calm. The other person doesnt have to fix your problems they just need to be a good listener.
Turn to co-workers for support. Having a solid support system at work can help buffer you from the negative effects of job stress. Just remember to listen to them and offer support when they are in need as well. If you dont have a close friend at work, you can take steps to be more social with your coworkers. When you take a break, for example, instead of directing your attention to your smartphone, try engaging your colleagues.
Lean on your friends and family members. As well as increasing social contact at work, having a strong network of supportive friends and family members is extremely important to managing stress in all areas of your life. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
Task Management Tips For Reducing Job Stress
Prioritize tasks. Tackle high-priority tasks first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
Delegate responsibility. You dont have to do it all yourself. Let go of the desire to control every little step. Youll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
Be willing to compromise. Sometimes, if you and a co-worker or boss can both adjust your expectations a little, youll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for everyone.
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Workplace stress isnt just, well, stressful. It can also do a number on your health, decrease your performance at work, and negatively affect the lives of those you love. According to a study by the CDC, 40% of American workers believe they have a job that is very or extremely stressful. And because the effects of stress in the workplace can be so detrimental, we believe its time more people start learning the tools for stress management in the workplace.
Reasons Why Managers Become Stressed
Managers experience stress at work for a number of reasons, including:
- The expectations for their performance are unclear.
- There is a lack of personal and professional support.
- Their work isnt challenging or engaging enough.
- They think that there are too few opportunities to advance or develop any further in their career.
- Their workload is too much.
- Their salary is too low or unequal to the work they are doing.
Here are some steps you can take to manage your stress more effectively:
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How To Improve Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace
If youve heard a lot about emotional intelligence but youre not sure what the hype is, or if you know what it is but doesnt see how it really applies in the workplace, youve come to the right place.
In this piece, well define emotional intelligence in the context of the workplace, describe its components, explore its correlates in the workplace, and look at how to improve it for both individual employees and the organization as a whole.
Before you read on, we thought you might like to . These science-based exercises will not only enhance your ability to understand and work with your emotions but will also give you the tools to foster the emotional intelligence of your clients, students, or employees.
You can download the free PDF here.
How To Implement Emotional Intelligence In The Workplace
If you want to learn more about how to apply and enhance emotional intelligence in the workplace, this excellent guide from emotional intelligence experts Cherniss, Goleman, Emmerling, Cowan, and Adler is what you need.
It describes best practices for implementing emotional intelligence training and overall culture in four phases:
- Linking learning goals to personal values
- Adjusting expectations
- Gauging readiness
Once you have your plans in place, Phase Two is where you start training. You should plan on:
- Fostering a positive relationship between the trainer and the learner
- Maximizing self-directed change
- Breaking those goals into manageable steps
- Maximizing opportunities to practice emotional intelligence
- Providing frequent feedback on that practice
- Relying on experiential, hands-on methods
- Building in support for your staff
- Using models of desirable behavior
- Enhancing insight into emotions and thought patterns
- Preventing relapse by preparing people for mental slips
Phase Three is all about transferring and maintaining the skills learned. Make sure you build in opportunities for:
- Encouraging use of the skills learned on the job
- Providing an organizational culture that supports learning
Finally, Phase Four is focused on evaluating the change that has come about from training. In this phase, you should be:
- Conducting ongoing evaluation research .
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Manager Tips To Reduce Employee Stress At Work
Workaholism is spreading in the workplace. A growing percentage of employees consider themselves workaholics and put in more than the expected 40 hours. In the past, workaholism hasnt received much attention because it’s often accepted and even expected by most workplace cultures. But it can have damaging effects on employee health and well-being, particularly when you’re trying to reduce employee stress at work.
Work-induced stress isnt solely an employees problem to solve. In fact, managers play an important role in modeling healthy behaviors and even coaching employees to improve productivity and reduce stress.
Here are 8 areas managers can focus on to help reduce or ease the stress levels of their employees.
How Can Employers Reduce Stress In The Workplace
Aside from management, other members of staff can experience workplace stress as well. As a leader, its important for employers to create environments in which the employees feel heard and encouraged. Here are a few strategies for reducing the stress levels of your team:
- Lead by example. Demonstrate effective stress-relieving techniques in your own life, and employees will be encouraged to adopt the same strategies for themselves.
- Make sure that every employee feels valued at your organization by recognizing their contributions.
- Provide employees with access to health benefits.
- Encourage your staff to use their vacation days and take breaks. Additionally, try to dissuade them from checking in while they use their paid time off.
- Create initiatives that help your employees move throughout the day. This is great for their physical and mental health, but it also has the added benefit of re-focusing employees. One way to do this is to install desks that can convert into standing desks.
- Create an environment that encourages physical activity. You can do this by offering discounted gym memberships or inviting your staff to take walks during their lunch breaks.
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Identification Of Primary Causative Agents
Stress management in the workplace calls for a joint report on the primary causative agents. Usually, human resource focuses on finding out why an employee is distressed. Just like in a hospital, human resource needs to decipher this point before exploring the options for treatment. When the factor is identified, depending on how related to work it is, treatment is administered. These causative agents must offer insight on how to manage stress effectively.
Know The Difference Between Good Stress And Bad Stress
Not all stress is bad, and not all stress can be avoided.
Good stress motivates you. Deadlines, tests, or being asked to speak in front of other people â these are all situations that create stress, but they are also what motivates us. Good stress tends to be short-term and can even enhance or improve brain function. When the pressure is on, the brain sharpens up.
Bad stress, however, is chronic. It harms your health, slows you down, and can even start to inhibit thinking.
Essentially, stress uses your fight-or-flight response. Good stress gives you time to recover from that response, but bad stress locks you into it and wears you down. Itâs important to know the difference between good and bad stress so you know which is the problem and which is actually helping you.
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Incorporate Speaking About Stress In Your Team Reviews
If your company engages in team reviews or general chats about how work is going between a manager and direct report, its a good idea to discuss any stressors, workloads, and responsibilities in these conversations.
This serves two purposes:
- The employee feels heard and has the opportunity to discuss issues that might be causing stress to a direct manager.
- The manager has a chance to better understand what causes stress to team members and can assign projects to them accordingly in the future.
Hbr And Emotional Intelligence
As you may have noticed from the citations, the Harvard Business Review is at the forefront of sharing information about and applications of emotional intelligence in the workplace. To dive a little deeper into the finer points of this topic, check out these two resources from HBR:
Harvard Business Review Everyday Emotional Intelligence: Big Ideas and Practical Advice on How to Be Human at Work
This double-volume will give you a broad understanding of emotional intelligence, with HBRs top 10 must-reads on the subject along with information and advice from HBR on how to actually apply this knowledge.
The book description promises that youll learn how to:
- Recognize your own EQ strengths and weaknesses
- Regulate your emotions in tough situations
- Manage difficult people
- Build the social awareness of your team
- Motivate yourself through ups and downs
- Write forceful emails people wont misinterpret
- Make better, less emotionally biased decisions
- Help an employee develop emotional intelligence
- Handle specific situations like crying at work and tense communications across different cultures
to check it out.
HBR Guides to Emotional Intelligence at Work
This is a five-volume set of books that dive into the topic of emotional intelligence at work. It includes valuable information on emotional intelligence in general, office politics, dealing with conflict, managing stress at work, and managing up and across.
Through this set, youll learn how to:
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Create A Positive Company Culture
Company culture can have a huge influence on stress levels at work, so employers should be paying great attention to the type of culture theyre fostering within the business. Company culture is reflected in the core values of the business, the type of people who are hired, the design of the office, and more.
A Look At Emotional Intelligence And Job Satisfaction
Its well-known that emotional intelligence is related to job satisfaction. Employees who are high in EI/EQ also tend to be higher in job satisfaction, as many studies have shown:
- Çekmeceliolu and colleagues studied nearly 150 call center employees in Istanbul and found a significant positive relationship between EI/EQ and internal job satisfaction .
- Similarly, high EI/EQ is negatively related to burnout and positively related to job satisfaction in people who work in the public sector .
- Ghanian nurses who were higher in emotional intelligence also enjoyed higher job satisfaction .
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Books To Read On Resilience At Work
Would you like to read more on the topic of resilience at work? There are some excellent books available! Here are a few:
- Career resilience in a changing workplace. Betsy Collard. 1996
- Building resilience at work. Kathryn McEwen. 2011
- Resilience at work: how to succeed no matter what life throws at you. Salvatore Maddi & Deborah Khoshaba. 2005
- Building resilience for success: a resource for managers and organizations. C. Cooper, J Flint-Taylor, M Pearn. 2013
- The mindful workplace: developing resilient individuals and resonant organizations with MBSP. Michael Chaskalson. 2011
- Fearless at work: timeless teachings for awakening confidence, resilience, and creativity in the face of lifes demands. Michael Carroll. 2012
- The authority guide to emotional resilience in business: strategies to manage stress and weather storms in the workplace. Robin Hills. 2016
- Happiness at work: be resilient, motivated and successful no matter what. Srikumar S. Rao. 2010
- The resilient employee: the essential guide to coping with change and thriving in todays workplace. Rosalind Cardinal. 2016
- Resilience at work: practical tools for career success. Kathryn Jackson. 2018
Still keen to learn more?! These are a few relevant YouTube videos. Enjoy!
Take The Team Out On Company Offsites
If you really want to give your employees a break, take them somewhere fun to get their minds off workplace stress and bond with each other. The possibilities are endless: you could go to a vineyard, grab a drink together at the local pub, check out a baseball game, or have a picnic in the park.
The activity you choose isnt important. Whats more important is the spirit of getting out to do something fun together, to take away from the day-to-day stress at work. Not only will it help reduce workplace stress, it will also help your employees build personal connections and work better together as a team.
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Eat Healthy And Nutritious Foods
Photo Credit: Stacy via Flickrs Creative Commons
Ever heard the phrase eat your feelings?
Its a real phenomenon. Many people turn to unhealthy comfort foods as stress management at work.
Safe to safe that dealing with work stress in this manner is not good. Why does this happen? When were stressed, our brain releases the hormone cortisol, which makes us crave salty, sweet, and fat-laden foods for the temporary pleasure they bring. But ironically, stress eating only exacerbates the problem.
Sugar or fat-laden foods like pizza, burgers, and ice cream make us feel lethargic, and less likely to tackle the problems that lay before us, which in turn only increases our stress. Thats why its so important to eat healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates that fuel our brains and support concentration and focus. This will give you the power to learn how to handle work pressure & how to overcome stress at work. Not sure what to eat? Here are some tips: Eat this:
- Complex carbs like whole wheat bread or pasta and vegetables
- Foods high in fiber like fruits and vegetables
- Superfoods like Kale, Dark Chocolate, and blueberries, which contain mood-boosting antioxidants
- Lean proteins like chicken, or better yet, wild-caught Alaskan Salmon
And dont forget, no other food category impacts your overall diet like snacking. The availability of healthy snacks will help improve your diet and keep your stress in check.
Help Employees Manage Long Hours
Many employees put in more than the typical 8-hour workday. For some shift jobs, working long hours is the norm. For others, increased workload or inadequate staffing may result in more hours spent working. Long work hours tend to be more stressful and lead to physical, mental, and emotional distress. This leaves employees feeling fatigued, less productive, and less likely to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Keep Employees Motivated
Showing appreciation is a great way to encourage and motivate your employees. Find opportunities to recognize employees for their effort and goal achievements. Depending on your area of work, your employees’ time might be spent in long, tiring shifts which can be disengaging when they see their manager putting in a fraction of the time. Show them youre just as dedicated by arriving early, chipping in where you can, and sticking it out to help them get the job done.
Allow for Breaks
Providing support for your team in their dawn to dusk work schedules is important. But regular breaks are also necessary for your physical and mental health and can improve employee productivity. Encourage employees to take a 5-minute break every hour and a longer break once or twice a day. Lunch and bathroom breaks shouldn’t be the only opportunities to get away from their desks or workstations.
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