In today’s modern business environment, the continuous drive to produce more for less often harms the very thing you’re trying to achieve. As pressure builds, the constant hidden stress begins to manifest itself in signs of physical illness, such as headaches, sickness and abdominal pains.
Employees begin to leave or take increasing amounts of sick leave, adding a level of stress and resulting in an unhappy workforce and reduced productivity. In 2021/22, over 17 million work days were lost in the US due to work-related pressure. Costing the American economy a staggering $47.5 billion over the twelve months.
If you feel your business is suffering from workplace stress-related problems, consider these 10 small steps to help improve the work environment.
1. Instigate an open-door policy
We all like to feel appreciated, and having a system where employees can approach their superiors with their concerns and ideas helps instill a feeling of worth.
Get into the habit of walking through the workshop on your way to the office. If you notice someone looking down, stop, and ask if all’s okay. Maybe suggest a one-on-one in the office. The outcome may be the difference between a happy, more contented employee, or somebody who walks at the end of the week.
2. Consider a staff suggestion box
Alongside making yourself more accessible, consider installing a staff suggestion box in the office or workplace. Whether a physical or online box, employees can use it to suggest ways to improve their working environment.
Suggestion boxes can help improve worker morale while providing management information on their staff’s different mindsets and perspectives. They can also be used to increase worker participation and highlight areas where possible problems are building up that can be resolved before they become an issue.
3. Have you updated your employees’ benefits package lately?
Although we all have to deal with stress daily, workplace stress can often boil over into other areas of our day-to-day lives.
In a recent study carried out by Justworks, 88% of employees surveyed said the quality of the health package offered played an important part in their job consideration. In comparison, only 41% of small to medium businesses offered any health insurance as a part of their benefits package.
Little wonder then, that new employees never reach their full potential when constantly worrying about whether they, their partners, or children might need medical assistance.
4. Try a new form of team-building activities
With the onset of covid, many company team-building activities ground to a halt. Favorites, like improvised workshops where ideas and moans were bandied about in equal measure, disappeared. Visits to the local bar, restaurants, cooking workshops, escape rooms, and scavenger hunts became almost a thing of the past.
However, necessity is the mother of invention, and work-from-home requirements spawned a range of team-building software packages the whole company can enjoy from the comfort of their laptop. It also provides the added benefit of being much cheaper than booking hotels or hiring venues.
According to ResearchandMarkets, what is known as the ‘global employee engagement and feedback software market’ is set to hit over $1,900 million by 2027.
The software includes quizzes, hackathons, and business simulation games suitable for a varied range of businesses and corporations to engage with their staff.
5. Have you considered the use of flexi-time working
Okay, not an option for many industries, but for office-based businesses already operating office/homework routines, it’s well worth considering.
In the UK, according to the British Institute of Leadership and Management, 94% of all businesses offer their employees flexible working.
Proven benefits for businesses include better employee retention, increased productivity, improved recruitment, and extended operating hours.
For the employee, benefits include reduced stress, financial savings such as child care, better job satisfaction, and an improved work/life balance.
6. A lot of research points to less being more
In 2022, over 30 US-based companies took part in a six-month trial involving working hours reduced by 20%, while employees continued to receive 100% pay.
With a similar trial carried out by businesses across Europe, results were highly positive, with companies claiming an average 8% increase in productivity – and a lot of very happy workers.
7. Consider giving the office/shop floor a makeover
Before breaking out the paint and brushes, take a little time to consider the different benefits of the color spectrum.
- Blue is said to be good for feelings of tranquillity, well-being, and productivity.
- Yellow induces positivity, creativity, optimism, and happiness.
- Red helps with increased energy, strength, excitement, and creativity.
- Green helps with relaxation and concentration, promoting calmness and focus.
Work with your employees to pick out the color scheme. If upgrading workstations and seating, involve the workers in your choice. After all, they are the ones who will be using them.
Introducing potted plants? Give the girls some petty cash and a few hours off to visit the local garden center. The greater your employee’s involvement, the happier, more content, and more productive they will be.
8. Arrange casual, out-of-work get-togethers for your staff
Finishing an hour early at the end of the working week and buying everyone a drink in the local bar can mean a lot. Especially so if the latest project has just been completed.
If your staff are all male, take in a baseball or football game. If a mixed group, hire a coach and organize a countryside barbeque. Not only do you have a chance to get to know your staff better, but they also get to know each other better. Manifesting in a happier, friendlier working environment.
9. Ask your staff if they would like to form a worker’s committee
A worker’s committee can have benefits for both employers and employees. Especially so if the company operates different departments. Staff can approach their committee member at any time with problems, or ideas for how to speed up production.
With meetings arranged monthly or fortnightly, numerous questions and ideas can be covered, and decisions made at each sitting. It is also a good time to bring employees up to speed on any new contracts arriving or changes in working practices being considered.
10. Add a tea-break lunch-break canteen
Converting a disused office into a works canteen can pay big dividends. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Freshly painted in a relaxing pastel shade and comfortable chairs allow staff to escape their workstations for a period.
Add a kettle, a coffee maker, a fridge for their packed lunches, and a bowl of grapes, cherries, and nuts on the company, and you’re good to go.
Removing stress in the workplace can pay big dividends, but it is a two-way street, and it’s well worth considering a workplace well-being course before embarking on the journey. As a manager/owner of the business, you are responsible for ensuring maximum consultation with your workforce.
From the employee’s point of view, they need to understand they always have someone they can take their complaints and concerns to, without fear of any negative backlash.
Get it right, and you will be rewarded with a happy workforce, reduced absenteeism, reduced staff turnover, and increased productivity.