Stress at work is an issue that is often overlooked by employers. Given its psychological nature, organisations can feel out of their way when it comes to dealing with work-related Stress. It’s nonetheless one of the greatest problem of today’s modern society.
Workplace stress corresponds to the feeling of employees who experience a disconnection between the tasks they need to accomplish and the resources they have available to complete it. This situation creates a physical and psychological reaction that is generally translated by high levels of stress and anxiety.
Given the disastrous consequences workplace-related stress can have on our lives, it’s important to moderate stress levels by identifying the causes of that stress. A recent workforce survey organised by Wrike has revealed some of the top sources of stress we experience at work. From a Lack of information to doing overtime too often, or even poor leadership, we offer you solutions to tackle those 12 issues and make your organisation a better place to work.
1. Missing information
Missing information turns out to be the top work stressors with 52% of survey participants reporting it as an issue. Sometimes we are expected to work on tasks or solve problems that we are stuck with and no one else actually has a clue about… not even management! Unable to ask for help or find the information we need to progress can be a great source of frustration, and therefore stress.
Whether the lack of information comes from our peers, a lack of training, or management itself, there are solutions to remedy this issue. Creating a culture of transparency where the sharing of knowledge is promoted is already a great start. But in order for this system to work well in practise, it requires the right tools to support it.
Implementing a content management system is a great place to start for example. HR departments will also appreciate the use of a solid HR system to streamline the flow of information and work collaboratively with their employees.
2. Working too many hours
Whether we work hard to make a living or to climb our way up the corporate ladder, the situation can sometimes get out of our hand. When we start putting in more hours, we set expectations for ourselves and others that we will be there whatever happens. If you notice that some of your employees are still stuck to their screen past the usual work hours on a regular basis, it might be time to raise a flag.
Ensuring that your workers have a balanced work schedule and have enough free time to recharge during their day is important. On the long run, employees who take the time to sleep enough and do other activities are more creative than their workaholic colleagues. The use of timesheets can help you keep track of the work hours of your employees and highlight the need for more staff or a re-allocation of your resources.
3. Managing a Busy Workload
43 percent of workers cite workload as the top contributor to stress in the workplace. Managing a heavy workload can be pretty unsettling when we do not have the right framework in place to handle it. If it’s about a lack of organisation, you need to provide solutions that will help plan and structure what needs to be achieved. Having the ability to delegate, at the right time, avoids forgetfulness and last minute issues.
By attributing the task of scheduling and planning to a project management specialist in your organisation can be a solution to reduce stress in your organisation. On the other hand, if you notice that the workload is truly overwhelming, suggest to your employees to focus on urgent and important tasks first. Invite them to ask for help if a colleague has the aptitude and time to give them a hand.
4. Unsure of their role
When your scope of work is not clearly defined, it can be hard to meet expectations. Employees who are unsure of their role can experience feelings of hopelessness not being able to understand what they are supposed to do.
Providing a compelling job outline through a job description upon start is a first step, but far from being enough of a roadmap to achieve high performance. There is a definite necessity to set specific goals and objectives to give a clear idea of what an employee has to achieve and is responsible for. Regularly updating and reviewing those objectives helps employees stay on track and allow them to raise any issue they might be encountering.
5. Lack of ownership of mistakes from top to middle management
The attitude your managers have when it comes to failure management can impact your employees’ stress levels greatly. Having good failure management simply consists in learning from our mistakes without blaming others for what we should be accountable for. When leaders fail to recognise their implication in the mistakes that their employees make or that they make themselves, they send a negative message around them. Without accepting failure, creativity and innovation would not be possible. Developing a culture where failure is accepted and not pointed out to provides a comforting environment in which people can focus on giving their best rather than having to be on the watch for a potential error at all times.
6. Too much multitasking
Tight schedules, competing priorities or the very own nature of our jobs lead us to multitask on a regular basis. Even if individuals are highly efficient when multitasking, the simple fact of juggling several tasks at the same time can easily raise our stress levels – it’s a given. By providing clear priorities and setting deadlines to projects can help limit multitasking habits by providing us with an order in which tasks should be tackled.
7. Unrealistic goals from managers
Are the objectives you set too ambitious or unrealistic? Imposing objectives without considering the realm of what’s actually possible constitute a major factor of stress at work for the people of an organisation. Evaluating the number of resources necessary to achieve your goals is therefore essential.
If you set goals that take too much time to achieve given the deadlines of a project, you will be likely to run your employees to exhaustion. Also take into account the budget you will need to finance the resources you need to reach your goals. You need to give yourself the means of your ambition! Invite people to focus on processes (the actions they will need to take) rather than on a top view of the goals.
8. Unclear leadership
Changes in the workplace can often be the cause of stress for some of your employees. For example major events such as a merger, the departure of a key employee, the termination of a person who was appreciated of all, the hire of a threatening figure, or potential cut in staff.
The ability of an organisation’s leaders to communicate and provide clear directions during these moments is key to provide reassurance and integrate employees in the evolution of the organisation.
Managers and managing executives should be trained to bring attention to the difficulties of their teams and employees. The simple act of informing employees can provide a form of relief.
9. Not doing what they are paid for
When our colleagues are not pulling their weight, we feel the pressure to compensate for their lack of contribution. We feel that we might be using a lot of our time to get things done for others because they don’t know how or simply just don’t care. Your line managers should recognise the individuals who act as roadblocks in order to manage the hidden issue behind their constant request for help.
Lack of training? Complete a gap analysis to identify the key skills or knowledge your employees need to stop interfering with other’s work. Lack of passion? It may be time to consider attributing their tasks or projects to people more apt to complete them autonomously.
It’s important that the challenges and projects you attribute to people are aligned with their natural strengths. Someone who has the chance to work on a task that they are good at will be happier and more likely to flourish in their work.
10. Deadlines often moved around
Tying back to the importance of being organised, one cannot work efficiently without being able to prioritise their tasks. When managers or leadership change deadlines, they put the completion of other projects in jeopardy. People are forced to put in more hours and efforts to complete projects in due time, thus raising stress levels. Having clear direction and a realistic approach to resource management is a necessity to provide a positive work environment.
11. Lack of collaboration or coordination
It’s very common to see employees suffer from stress related to a lack of recognition. When we work autonomously and independently, the lack of collaboration can make us feel unappreciated for the efforts that we produce. Being able to participate in the decisions of the organisation and learning from others by working together is highly valuable for an employee’s development. Also, a lack of coordination can make us feel excluded from the common goal and make us doubt the purpose of our work.
Even if some employees’ role entails that they work on their own (when they work remotely for example), it’s still important to include group activities to enrich their work-life. Even it’s just the moment that we spend chatting around the coffee machine, these times are important to keep us in touch with the flow of the organisation.
12. Problems with prioritisation
It’s important that managers know how to distinguish what’s urgent from what’s important in order to organise their employees’ work day efficiently. They should be able to give an order of priority to each and thus create a hierarchy in their importance. It’s crucial to communicate with your team and keep employees up to date with what’s happening so that they can anticipate their workload. Project management solutions or internal chat systems can be a great help to improve communication between employees and managers.
By proactively managing stress in your organisation will result in a win-win situation for you and your employees. In addition to reducing the costs related to your workforce’s health, you will create a positive environment where stress is not a hanging threat. Remain aware of your surroundings and offer simple solutions to take care of stress-related issues in your organisation.
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