How to Manage & Mitigate Stress in the Workplace

construction worker feels stress at workplace


Do you have a stressful workplace?

Some employees might surprise you in their answer.

Stress isn’t the worst thing in the world, mind you. There’s good stress and bad stress. Good stress means people are busy, revenue is coming in, and food is being put on people’s tables. Bad stress means that people are having negative feelings about the job and/or workplace, and perceive an undue amount of ‘pressure.’ That’s the kind of stress we’ll be talking about in this article, as we discuss the best ways to manage or mitigate workplace stress.


Workplace Stress Defined

fighting fire in dangerous chemicals workplace

The common definition of workplace stress is the harmful impact to a worker, when certain job factors are not aligned with ability or expectations. The resulting impact to the worker may be physical, mental or combination of both. Often workplace stress is considered as an emotional strain on an individual that can take the form of anxiety or depression. Physical impacts are those events related to hypertension, heart problems and other disorders. In addition to the harmful impacts to the employee, employers should recognize that these impacts often result in individual performance issues, as well the detrimental effects to overall morale and team function.

The financial losses due to workplace stress can add up quickly. That’s why effective business management must include a plan to identify causes of workplace stress and have a mitigation process ready.


Causes of Workplace Stress

repetitive stress injury in workplace

The specific causes of stress will vary from person to person and can be as varied as the many different types of work environments. A job that may be stressful for one person may be one in which another person thrives. The interaction of coworkers, management and job demands can be widely different. The underlying cause is often a job fit issue. The job demands could exceed the worker’s ability and training. In other cases, the job demands may be dull and routine and not aligned with the workers long-term goals. Worries about job security are another a key factor in the stress levels of employees.

Both management and individuals must assess the workplace environment for specific causes. Management must first assure their employee interaction is not the cause. Workers often express that their immediate supervisor is a leading stress factor. Individual workers need to review their family situation to ensure they are doing everything they can to help balance work and home life. Work/Life balance is another import source of job conflict stress.


Stress Mitigation

back hoe at construction site

Workplace stress mitigation should start with leadership. Senior management must be committed to assessing the environment and potential for stress impacts on their employees. Mitigation steps would include being prepared for change management stress that often comes with a new process method, automation, an acquisition, a new product release, other activity necessary for a growing business, but can generate uncertainty. Primarily the uncertainty of job elimination, job change or re-training or other change can cause stress. Communication and trust building are the key management steps in minimizing the uncertainty of change and related stress impacts.

Senior management should have regular reviews and incentives for supervisors to ensure workers are treated fairly and have a hot-line or other communication channel, where concerns can be voiced without fear of retribution. It is important that managers and workers have conflict resolution training, to ensure there is open communication on stress issues.  To assist with work/life balance issues, management needs to look at employee assistance and child care programs, where practical. Flexible work weeks are good solution to helping employees manage work and family life.

Stress management is the responsibility of both management and employees.  Management leads the way, but employees should make sure they aware of all the available options to keep their stress in check and be a part of a top performing team.

Contact us today to find out how Advanced Training & Consulting can help your company mitigate stress and promote a more productive workplace.

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