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11 Ways managers can help to reduce stress in the workplace

11 Ways managers can help to reduce stress in the workplace

There’s no debate that workplace stress is a significant problem for today’s organizations. Stress can affect nearly every part of a company. Work-related stress can impact employee engagement, well-being, productivity, profitability, and so much more. The good news is leadership has a unique opportunity to help employees learn to manage and reduce workplace stress. By implementing some very simple yet effective stress management strategies, it’s possible to drastically reduce stress levels in your workplace.

What can managers do to reduce workplace stress? Fortunately, there are countless strategies and techniques that can help reduce job stress. From communication practices to promoting work-life balance, managers hold the key to creating a peaceful, productive workplace culture and environment. Their role is crucial in implementing the right tactics to foster a supportive and positive work environment

Keep reading to learn more about how managers can reduce stress in the workplace.

1. Foster open communication

Fostering open communication is an important part of helping employees learn to manage stress at work. Having a safe space to express concerns or needs is proven to immediately relieve work-related stress and anxiety, and studies show that effective communication is linked to reduced work stress levels and lower rates of employee and even manager burnout.

2. Offer flexible work arrangements

Since the global pandemic forced organizations to redefine how and where people worked, flexible work arrangements have emerged as a potential solution to the causes of workplace stress. While some managers once feared that flex work options might discourage or prevent productivity, current research suggests that having flexibility in working arrangements can significantly reduce employee stress levels.  

3. Recognize and appreciate efforts

Catching people doing something right is a leadership style that suggests finding the positives in your employees can be more effective than calling out the negatives. 

Research has found that recognizing and acknowledging efforts can have a profound impact on employee performance and mental well-being, whereas stress can have a significant negative impact. Managers who utilize recognition can play a vital role in maintaining a positive work environment that reduces stress.

4. Support professional development

Organizations that offer professional development and opportunities for advancement have a less stressed workforce and loyal employees who stay with them. 

A 2021 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that a whopping 94% of respondents said they’d stay at a company that was willing to invest in their future, making the investment a win-win, lowering stress and reducing turnover.

5. Monitor and manage workloads

Companies that monitor employees’ workloads to ensure they’re not being overwhelmed often see benefits almost immediately. Employees with reasonable workloads are significantly less stressed, and being willing to take the time to recognize everyone’s responsibilities creates a healthy environment where employees feel more supported. Setting clear expectations and being upfront about what you need from employees can reduce their stress as you’re eliminating unrealistic or unhealthy demands.

6. Encourage work-life balance

Work-life balance is essential to maintaining healthy stress levels in the workplace. Yet some managers still worry that encouraging this balance might decrease productivity. Just remember that when employees have control over their work-life balance, they’re much more likely to be engaged and productive. 

“Poor work-life balance can have a deleterious effect on a person's mental health, leading to increased stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout. This imbalance prohibits individuals from achieving rest, relaxation, and spending time with family and loved ones. Ultimately, poor work-life balance can result in job dissatisfaction, resentment, and inconsistency, negatively impacting individual productivity and, consequently, the organization.” - Talkspace therapist Famous Erwin, LMHC, LPC

Companies that prioritize and support personal well-being outside of work tend to have more balanced employees. Some of the ways you can promote optimal work-life balance for employees include offering flexible work schedules, telecommuting options, or paid or unlimited PTO.

7. Resolve conflicts swiftly

Workplace conflict can create stress, tension, and anxiety for all parties involved. The uncertainty that can follow conflict often exacerbates stress levels and reduces productivity while harming general well-being. By promptly acknowledging and addressing conflict in the workplace, you can prevent issues from escalating and a toxic workplace from developing. 

Not to mention, healthy conflict resolution can foster trust among and between employees and leadership. When conflict is resolved constructively, employees can return their focus and energy to productive tasks, rather than dwelling on interpersonal issues that can ultimately increase stress levels.

8. Provide mental health resources

Investing in mental health resources in the workplace is more than a nice-to-have today. It’s a must-have that can substantially reduce or even eliminate workplace stress while promoting employee well-being and creating a supportive environment where people feel valued.

Mental health resources that can help reduce stress in the workplace include:

  • Giving access to counseling services 
  • Hosting mental health workshops
  • Promoting awareness to reduce the stigma associated with mental health
  • Providing online therapy for employees from Talkspace

9. Demonstrate healthy work habits

Healthy work habits — like setting boundaries, taking time off, and prioritizing self-care — are essential for managing workplace stress across your workforce. Policies that support and encourage healthy habits are a great start, but when leadership models behavior by taking breaks or setting boundaries between work and personal life, they’re effectively demonstrating that this is an accepted, important part of your workplace culture.

10. Build a supportive team environment

Fostering a supportive team environment where employees can collaborate, communicate, and offer each other mutual support is critical in learning to handle stress at work. Building a sense of belonging is instrumental in reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety while promoting a culture of empathy and understanding. When everyone on your team feels respected and supported, they can manage their stress in the healthiest ways possible.

11. Improve employee financial wellness

We often discuss employee physical and mental health, but employee financial wellness is just as important to workplace well-being. 

Employee financial stress can have a debilitating impact on one's mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and physical health problems. Constant mental bombardment about money can create a sense of insecurity and contribute to the breakdown of marriages, which can be a major factor affecting one's mental well-being.” - Talkspace therapist Famous Erwin, LMHC, LPC

Many organizations today offer financial education, workshops, or other resources to help their employees improve their financial well-being. Learning to budget and manage debt helps employees feel less stressed and more optimistic about their financial future. Improving employee financial wellness will empower your employees, alleviating the stress that’s so often associated with financial uncertainty.

Reduce workplace stress with Talkspace

One powerful way that managers can reduce stress in the workplace and create a more peaceful environment is by using Talkspace. 

Talkspace is an online therapy platform that offers mental health services designed to improve the lives of your employees. Online therapy is convenient, easily accessible, and affordable. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how Talkspace can help managers reduce employee stress in your organization. 

Sources:

  1. Sangal, Rohit B., Alexandra Bray, Eleanor Reid, Andrew Ulrich, Beth Liebhardt, Arjun K. Venkatesh, and Marissa King. 2021. “Leadership Communication, Stress, and Burnout among Frontline Emergency Department Staff amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed Methods Approach.” Healthcare 9 (4): 100577. doi:10.1016/j.hjdsi.2021.100577. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8361146/.  
  2. Jiang, Liqun, Zhiyuan Pan, Yunshi Luo, Ziyan Guo, and Deqiang Kou. 2023. “More Flexible and More Innovative: The Impact of Flexible Work Arrangements on the Innovation Behavior of Knowledge Employees.” Frontiers in Psychology 14 (April). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1053242. https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1053242/full.  
  3. Bergeron, Paul. 2021. “Hold on to Your High-Potential Workers.” Welcome to SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/topics-tools/news/organizational-employee-development/hold-to-high-potential-workers

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