At any given time, 36% of your team is experiencing stress. You might scoff and say, “Um, obviously“, given the fact that they’re at work (hashtag agency life) and not, say, lying on a beach in Mauritius (though this comes with its own set of stressors, like ‘The sun is melting the ice in my drink’ and ‘Argh, sunglasses tan’).

But before you brush it off, consider that 42% of workers have left a job due to stress, according to Forbes. Which means if you aren’t taking your staff’s anxieties seriously, you risk losing nearly half of them to a boss who will. That’s an awful lot of resources to throw at interviewing, integrating, training and overall investing on a regular basis.

Naturally, you can’t begin to tackle the problem until you’ve identified it. Here are four major stress factors for your employees and how you can address them.

1. Workload

Any capable employee who’s regularly working overtime to finish tasks – and not because they Facebooked all day – has got too much to do.

Let’s be honest: as a manager, you can tell whether an employee’s workload is reasonable or not. Sure, they might be your best resource. Sure, the client is becoming increasingly demanding. But at the end of the day, it’s counterintuitive to constantly push staff to give more than they can be reasonably expected to – counterintuitive because they’ll make like the meme, toss their papers in the air, and say, “Screw this @#$!, I’m outta here.” Where do you think all those successful freelancers come from?

2. Work beef 

Part of being a good manager is keeping an eye on interpersonal relationships and making sure you choose the right people to lead your team. The larger your company, the more likely there is to be drama among coworkers, and drama can lead to fights, anger, and work stoppage – less than ideal for productivity.

Many people dislike confrontation, so if you see animosity brewing, you need to deal with it post-haste. Anger and resentment are things that people tend to carry, particularly in the workplace, so the issue is unlikely to resolve itself. Get both sides of the story and try to resolve arguments without assigning blame. Stay objective and keep a formal record of everything discussed, the outcome and any action points.

(As a sidenote, this is also why team fit is as important as skills and experience when it comes to hiring).

3. Work/life balance

Address point number 1 and you’ll go a long way towards sorting out this bugbear too. But there’s still more you can do.

Give employees the option to work from home from time to time (this also eases excessive communiting, another prime stressor); make it a rule that employees don’t work after hours; focus on outcomes rather than hours worked; relook your maternity leave policies. There’s a lot you can do to help your staff feel happier through better balance, and it’s widely documented that happy staff are more productive.

4. Boss beef

Having a poor relationship with the boss is one of the most common reasons people cite for leaving a job. Different management styles can lead to disagreements, but being in agreement and working cohesively as a team don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

If you’re clashing with one of your employees, you need to work it out quickly and professionally, ideally with HR involved so your employee feels protected and heard. As a boss, bear in mind that you shouldn’t play favourites or bring a bad mood into the office. Read more about being a boss your employees don’t want to break up with.

What are your best tips for dealing with employee stress? Let me know in the comments, and if you enjoyed this post, share it with your network.

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