How To Manage Stress At Work: 12 Tips For Stress Free Workplace

October 11, 2016 Left Field 0 Comment

As business owners and employers we have a responsibility to our staff in the workplace, and to be fair, many of us extend that concern outside the workplace too.

Being aware of, and figuring out how to manage stress in the workplace should be a primary concern not only for productivity reasons, but also to encourage mental wellbeing of our staff and ourselves.

We should note that stress is not necessarily a bad thing, with moderate levels of stress helping us perform better. However, prolonged stress not only affects our mental health but also the health of the body too.

This week being Mental Health Week 2016 it’s a great time to talk about the subject of mental health, the effects of long term stress and how best to deal with it.

What Is Stress?

Let’s first take a look at what stress is and how it affects the mind and body.

Our bodies possess a natural chemical response to a stressful environment often referred to as the “flight or fight” mode. The response includes the release of compounds into the blood such as adrenalin, which works great short term.

The problems begin when demanding circumstances exist for long periods without relief. Over long periods the body and mind can begin to break down and reflect the difficult conditions.

Emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, frustration and depression are common. Negativity can escalate producing physical symptoms, making you feel even worse.

Extreme anxiety can cause heart palpitations, headaches or stomach disorders. Muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head are common physical conditions of stress which can become chronic in some circumstances.

A host of other medical conditions have been connected to long term stress including headaches and migraine.

Once the environmental demand has passed, the body should return to its “natural state”, however this is not always the case. In an overly demanding work environment physical conditions can last days, weeks, months or even years.

The Health & Safety Authority (HSA) describes stress as follows;

Stress is a negative experience/ feeling, associated with new physical symptoms. These including increased heartbeat, swiftness of breath, dry mouth, upset stomach and sweaty palms and over the longer term, more serious digestive upset, cramp and raised blood pressure/cardiovascular disease. Psychological symptoms range from racing thoughts and speech, lack of impulse control, and feelings of being overpowered, losing control and fearfulness generally.

Read more about HSA recommendations regarding occupational stress management 

The word stress has become a pretty common word amongst the general public and many of us think we know what it is and possibly believe that we can simply deal with it if it arises.

However, many of us wait until the effects have become all too apparent before we do anything about it. I think you’ll agree that prevention is better than cure and certainly when it comes to stress management this is true.

As business owners and managers we need to be aware of our responsibilities regarding management of workplace stress and provision of information, not only to employees but to ourselves too.

12 Tips For Stress Free Workplace

There are many things we can do to manage stress in the workplace, here are a few that could help you get started with your plan;

  1. Provide workplace stress information to staff such as leaflets and guides and have them openly available.
  2. Use stress awareness posters in strategic places like the inside toilet doors.
  3. Update Health & Safety documentation to include workplace stress information.
  4. Email staff each month or quarter with a helpful workplace stress management advice
  5. Place plants and greenery around the workplace. Plants have been known to improve mood.
  6. Dedicate a room where staff can go to chill out. Tip: don’t put a TV in here!
  7. Instead of stocking the staffroom with biscuits and sweets, choose fruit and healthy snacks.
  8. Encourage staff to take micro breaks every 45 mins.
  9. Provide a comments box where staff can privately relay any problems they have.
  10. Offer staff a simple system of managing tasks such as working to short to-do lists.
  11. Play positive mood music softly in the background of the office. Tip: don’t play the radio
  12. Continue to promote open discussion by encouraging staff to notice the tell tale signs of stress in others.

People in general are very impressionable and we can influence staff in the workplace by consciously creating a positive environment for them to work in.

As we make it more obvious that we care about the mental welfare of our staff, and provide the necessary information upfront and openly, we encourage individuals to become more aware of their own mental health.

The benefits for business shouldn’t be ignored. A happy workplace is a productive workplace and cultivating a positive environment at work is good for everyone.

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Joe Cunnane Practice Owner TRA Professional Services       Qualifications:  FCA Chartered Accountant & AITI Chartered Tax Advisor Joe has over 20 years experience working in both private practice and industry ... Read More »