Ask the Experts: Handling Stress Amongst Your Staff
On Mar 10, 2022
We’ve been both super busy and understaffed recently. Is there anything we can do during this time to help our employees avoid extra stress or burnout?
If you have general concerns about the effects of stress in your workplace, you might consider ways to help your employees reduce and manage their stress. Tried and true methods include offering health benefits so employees can access healthcare professionals and paid time off so they can take a day here and there to rest and recharge. Simply encouraging employees to support one another and allowing them to take breaks during the day can also be a great help. Other considerations include:
Remove nonessential work duties: For the positions that seem most stretched, make a list of tasks that could be put on hold (or perhaps reassigned). You can invite input from employees, too, but I’d recommend acknowledging that they’re overwhelmed and saying that you’ll do your best to alleviate some of the pressure. Then hold off on nonessential tasks until business slows down or you’ve increased your headcount.
Allow for flexible scheduling: If employees need to work longer hours on some days during the week, consider allowing them to work fewer hours on other days of the week. Note that some states have daily overtime, spread-of-hours, or split-shift laws.
Budget for overtime: Employees may need to work extra hours to keep up with the current demands of their job, so allow them to work overtime if you (and they) can swing it. If you’re pretty sure overtime will be necessary, inform employees of that ahead of time, so they can plan accordingly.
Ensure all equipment is fast and reliable: It’s important to identify, troubleshoot and correct any slow or nonworking equipment issues (such as laptops, internet hardware, cash registers, or vehicles). If not resolved, these issues can slow down work and add to everyone’s stress.
Look for ways to automate: Consider whether any of your employees’ manual and time-consuming tasks could be eliminated or simplified with the use of new or different technologies.
Increase safety protocols: Employee absences related to COVID have created a significant strain for many employers during the pandemic. Shoring up your safety protocols may reduce the risk of COVID-related absences because of sickness or exposure. Depending on your circumstances, examples include improving ventilation, encouraging or requiring vaccination, requiring employees to wear masks, and allowing employees to work remotely when possible.
An employee says that the stress of the job is affecting their mental health. How should we handle this?
This employee may just need to talk through their concerns and get your help prioritizing or delegating. They may, for example, feel like every single thing on their to-do list is life-or-death by Friday at close of business, when that’s not really the case. Some manager guidance can go a long way, especially for your employees who are usually self-directed.
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