Reducing Workplace Stress Made Easy

According to a recent Stanford University survey, 52% of workers say they are stressed at work on a daily basis. In addition, 46% say employee burnout is responsible for up to half of workforce turnover. The higher the turnover, the more time and money is spent on recruiting, training and overtime. Hence, less time and money is available for employee recognition and development.

Globalization has pushed productivity to such unrealistic levels that workers can no longer maintain the same pace year after year. The top reasons for burnout are as follows: Unfair compensation, unreasonable workload, too much overtime, poor management, and a negative culture. The “cost of burnout” is not only high turnover but also higher medical costs and more used sick days. Burnout is the ultimate result of ongoing stress and was attributed to 120,000 deaths last year alone.

Most experts agree that stress is a byproduct of living in the 21st century.  Employer expectations, family dynamics, finances, and traffic are all common sources of stress but they don’t have to be. Stress comes from our appraisal of a situation and not from the situation itself. We can choose to see things as threatening and provoking, or not. Having control over your response to situational demands is the key to managing stress. Reducing stress should be on everyone’s “to do” list since it interferes with task performance, makes us less productive, and is not compatible with healthy living and wellbeing.

The Employer’s Solution:

If employers look to what they can control (work hours, management/leadership, company culture, unused vacation days, equitable treatment for all) then there is a reduced likelihood of stress becoming commonplace in their organizations. 

  • Policies that are out of date or arbitrary should be changed to allow employees more autonomy over their workday, and more equitable treatment for all.
  • Forcing workers to take at least one week of vacation is also advisable since unrelenting deadlines can be a major source of workplace stress.
  • Fostering a culture of appreciation can go a long way toward making employees feel valued, particularly when they have to work longer hours.
  • A good manager understands the importance of recognition but all too often managers do not receive the professional development they need to become proficient leaders. Good bosses are made not born.
  • Survey your employees and ask them what they like and dislike about working for your company then seek to remedy the conditions that are leading to their stress.

The Employee’s Solution:

People leave poorly run companies and bad bosses. Long hours are not the only source of stress. How employees feel about their treatment is just as important. Learning to control our appraisal of a given situation takes practice and is not automatic. The moment something happens to cause you stress or anxiety, you need to stop and ask yourself “Is this something deserving of my attention? Is there a better way for me to react?”  You can always say NO to any demands on your time and resources, or at the very least renegotiate due dates and priorities.

If this doesn’t work, then the next best thing to do is to take a brisk 20-minute walk. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, which in turn can help us combat the effects of stress. While walking, focus on your breath, in the moment, and keep it flowing in and out while enjoying your walk. If you practice controlling your appraisal of situations with these techniques you can reduce up to 50% of your everyday stress. Choosing an employer that controls their part of the equation by providing equitable and fair treatment for all can help to reduce the rest.