Creating a Stress-Free Environment
“Are you stressed?”
Your mind wanders over the blocked calendar, pile of files, an unfulfilled checklist and the nagging pain creeping around your neck and shoulders. The answer comes out without much thought:
“No, it’s just work-related stuff.”
We are so used to workplace stress that it has been normalized to an unhealthy extent. Having a successful professional life has become synonymous with stress. In fact, the amount of stress you have is often seen as a reflection of your productivity at work. The more stressed you are, the busier you look. This bears an unhealthy impact on health and wellbeing.
Creating a stress-free work environment is priority for top management and HR leaders. Here are six best ways to do so:
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Don’t second-guess entrusting employees with major responsibilities. Let them take ownership of their work, whether they fail or succeed. It’s important to create a safe-to-fail work environment, so they move past failures onto the next challenge. This way, not only will they revel in their successes, but also learn from failures. Knowing they have your support builds trust and eases the pressure to be perfect at all times. Recently, an intern at HBO accidentally sent out an empty test email and the organization posted this gracious tweet that went viral. This is a prime example of building trust within a safe-to-fail environment.
Encourage collaborative projects
Forcing employees to sit together for an arbitrary team bonding activity may not create long-term engagement. However, working together on a project helps them bond creatively and creates long-lasting professional and personal relationships. it provides common ground to share inputs and experiences that lays the foundation for meaningful connections. Additional support also reduces the stress of working on a project alone. For instance, a person creating a presentation may include things based on his/her experiences. However, an outsider may bring along new experiences and inputs that enrich the presentation.
Establish work-life balance
Work-life balance is the key to workplace wellbeing. Not making time for family while struggling to keep up with work can be extremely stressful. This leaves them unfulfilled as they tend to miss out on something or the other. An employee shouldn't have to compromise on either or struggle to stay afloat in such a situation. Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by segregating time for their personal and professional commitments. Do your bit by discouraging meetings, emails and messages after work, especially in a work from home scenario where work-life balance has gone for a toss.
Take a break
It's unfair to expect employees to be at their desks, glued to the screen all the time. Encourage breaks, especially if they have been in a long meeting poring over dull excel sheets and monologues. Not only does it help clear the mind, it is also essential for physical wellbeing. This time can be used for deep breathing exercises, a quick walk around the office, or a tea break with colleagues. Several organizations have a dedicated space, designed specially to help employees relax with games, soft bean bags and rugs, snacks, etc. The goal is to unwind and leave all your stress and negative emotions behind, before going back to work.
Hear them out
Great managers can create a stress-free work environment with one simple step — listening. Listen to them, understand their needs and offer solutions accordingly. Organizing regular one-on-one sessions is an easy way to do so. Are they happy with their role? Is there anything they’d like to change in the team or be better at personally? Sometimes people change their career path midway as they feel they are good at something else. If they are not happy in their current role they will feel stressed about being unable to give it their all. Some employees may also feel stressed due to lack of resources or collaborative effort from other team members. Listening to your employees makes them feel cared for and helps in creating a stress-free work environment.
Focus on physical work environment
A conducive work environment is also an important step towards creating a stress-free work environment. Does your office have harsh lights? Have you invested in any ergonomic furniture? Are there any indoor plants? All these factors are responsible for reducing stress in the workplace. After all, nobody enjoys sitting on an uncomfortable chair under extremely bright lights with bare white walls for company. You should also encourage employees to personalize their desks for creating a stress-free work environment. If they are in the middle of a stressful day, a picture of their family vacation or a drawing their kid made can provide much needed relief.
What steps have you taken to reduce stress in the workplace? Tell us in the comments.