Today is #nationalstressawarenessday. In small doses stress can increase productivity and can give a sense of achievement and purposes to employees, however, high levels of stress, whether inside or outside of work, can have a detrimental effect on the health and well-being of employees.

It’s important to encourage employees and colleagues to identify where this line is, and help them deal with their stress in productive and healthy ways, rather than avoiding it.

credit to red ted art

credit to red ted art

Here are 8 tips to do just that:

1.       Encourage lunch breaks and lead by example

Taking an hour break can do wonders for productivity and stress reduction. Time away from a project to focus on something else can encourage a new perspective and make work quicker and easier. It is important that senior members of staff lead by example and encourage employees to get away from their desks for lunch.

2.       Pay attention to workload and help employees manage it

If you manage a team it is important you are aware of their workload so you can ensure they don’t end up overstretched by consistent demands from above.

3.       Set clear and achievable deadlines

Whilst you may love that employee that completes work the moment it’s set this could be because they are unaware of deadlines so rushes through work in order to get it done. This can cause a great deal of stress and even set back other projects due to lack of priority and attention to detail. Similarly, if you an employee who believes they have plenty of time to do something but finds out the deadline is imminent, this can have the same effect.

4.       Introduce flexible working

Increasingly employees see flexible working as essential to being able to manage their personal and professional lives simultaneously. Flexible working ensures employees feel free to be able to work effectively, whilst reducing stress over things such as child-care, doctors’ appointments, or other personal commitments. It’s also crucial to ensuring each person is catered for, for instance one employee may love working earlier in the morning, whilst another is a night owl. It’s not always a one-size-fits-all.

5.       Encourage open and honest conversations about stress

Let your employees know that they can speak to someone about stress and they will be helped, not punished. Many employees struggle to admit to stress and it is important to try and change this.

6.       Pay attention

Just taking more notice of your employees can reveal a great deal about how they feel. Have they been complaining of headaches, lack of sleep? Have they mentioned feeling overwhelmed or confused? Do they seem quieter or are they spending more time at their desk than usual? Signs of stress can be easy to identify if you look a little closer.

7.       Encourage employees to be offline outside of normal working hours, but don’t ban it

Whilst it is important employees don’t work all hours of the day, every day, it’s important to know that some people need to do this occasionally in order to reduce stress. If an email is playing on their mind let them answer it, but be wary not to encourage it, and ensure they know you can support them.

8.       Ask!

If you are concerned about stress in your workplace there is nothing wrong with private conversations to see how people are doing and to identify ways to help them.