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Stress Awareness Month: 7 Tips to Manage Stress in the Workplace

7 Tips to Manage Stress in the Workplace #StressAwarenessMonth

Things that are likely to cause a decent amount of stress: sending out an innocent tweet that ends up horrifying the world, watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion, and … work!

Yep, more than 8 in 10 (83 percent) of American workers said they were stressed out as a result of their jobs in a 2013 study. That’s quite an increase from 73 percent the year prior.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines job stress as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.”

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and to commemorate it we’re serving up seven simple stress-busting moves to help you create a happier workforce.

1) Are your employees doing something they love? You know what they say: “Find a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.” It’s unrealistic to expect people to love every aspect of their jobs (yes sometimes there’s filing or math or Excel spreadsheets involved). But what is absolutely crucial is that they’re passionate about the industry they’re in, excited about the goals they’re expected to meet and pumped about the journey to get there.

2) Apply the Goldilocks principle when it comes to workload. Remember that children’s story where Goldilocks tested something until it was “just right.” It’s important that your employees have just the right workload. Make sure they have enough going on so they’re not bored and actually feel invested in the success of the business. On the other hand, one of the most common drivers of stress in the workplace is an unmanageable workload. Check in with employees regularly (nope, once a year during the annual review isn’t enough) and foster an environment where they can say ‘No’ at times without fear of being fired.

3) Ask and ensure that workplace conditions are conducive to your people. This does not necessarily mean modifying the thermostat. Do your homework to see if the layout of the physical work space is conducive to collaboration and productivity. For instance, you might think an open office without physical barriers will help break down collaboration barriers and spark innovation, but some research shows employees in an open office were more stressed, found it more disruptive and productivity fell.

Grab an aspirin.  >> These are the most stressful jobs in America.

4) Work on building workplace relationships. Let’s be honest: We’ve all got co-workers who are just flippin’ annoying. BuzzFeed has classified these into 15 categories of co-workers we all wish we didn’t have. Unfortunately, workplace relationships — or lack thereof — is actually a leading cause of stress in  the workplace. And while it’s not up to you to make everyone around you play nice, see if there’s anything you can do to build team camaraderie and intervene when conflicts arise.

Annoying coworker

5) Are you paying them enough? In a 2013 study, low pay was the No. 1 reason workers in the U.S. felt stressed. That shouldn’t come as too surprising. More than 3 in 4 (76 percent) Americans have cited money as a major source of stress in their lives, according to the American Psychological Association. Since money doesn’t grow on trees, we all have budgets to maintain. But you can stay competitive in the eyes of candidates by showing willingness to discuss alternative benefits like flexible schedules, more vacation time, etc.

6) Work-life balance. No, you needn’t do something as drastic as this, but to quote my colleague Mary Lorenz: “You may not be able to offer your employees the luxury of working remotely all the time or creating their own schedules, but perhaps you could offer a monthly ‘work from home’ day or take a cue from World Wildlife Fund and give them every other Friday off. Employees will appreciate the show of trust and autonomy.”

7) Career advancement. It should come as no surprise that employees wish to see a path forward in the organization. Notice how I said forward and not necessarily upward. That’s because lateral moves are becoming much more common these days as a way to stretch employees. Offer candidates the possibility of enabling them to enrich their careers by getting to work in different positions or even departments. And whatever you do, set the right expectations up front and keep the lines of communication open.

So go on, give it a try and see if you notice your employees go from stressed to … well, I’ll let Pharrell say it…

Tell us in the comments below or tweet at @CBforEmployers: What is the MOST effective tactic you use to alleviate stress and create a culture of happiness in the workplace?

Deanna Hartley

About Deanna Hartley

Deanna Hartley is a senior copywriter and community manager on the creative services team at CareerBuilder, where she writes about issues that are top of mind for employers and recruiters – including talent acquisition, employee engagement and retention. An avid social media user, Deanna is the face behind @CBforEmployers on Twitter as well as CBforEmployers’ Facebook and Instagram pages, so it’s easy to stay connected with her. Prior to joining CareerBuilder, Deanna was a senior editor for the Human Capital Media Group, publishers of Talent Management, Chief Learning Officer, Diversity Executive and Workforce Management magazines. Deanna holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She loves caffeine, social media, pop culture and dogs – though not necessarily in that order.
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