5 Ways to Alleviate Stress in the Workplace Sep 23rd 2015 Workplace Performance Is Your Job Stressing You Out? In today’s interconnected and technology-driven environment, it’s easy to feel bombarded with work-related messages. Smartphones now force both management and employees to carry their work around 24/7 right in their pockets. With inboxes overflowing and automated reminders that show no mercy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed on a daily basis. With the ability to respond immediately comes the pressure to respond immediately. The expectation to work harder can be detrimental to employees’ and employers’ long-term productivity. According to research done by officevibe.com, 1 million U.S. employees miss work every day because of workplace stress, and 51 percent of employees said they were less productive at work due to stress. About 62 percent of American workers said their workload has increased and admitted to not using all of their allotted vacation. Almost 70 percent of employees believe that you have to work late and overtime to get ahead. What do these figures say to you? To us, this clearly highlights the stress epidemic in today’s workforce. The following are a few suggestions to help de-stress your office environment. Make meetings productive. Have an agenda and a goal. Make sure everything that needs to be discussed at a meeting is covered. If not, people get confused and frustrated and feel they’ve just wasted valuable time. Sometimes the best way to facilitate an effective meeting is to have it away from the work stations. Leave the tablets, phones and laptops at your desk so that you can focus on the task at hand. Another way to get everyone awake and involved is to have the meeting standing up. This gets everyone’s blood flowing and eliminates the temptation to zone out in the corner. Effective communication. The key to time management is efficiency and the key to efficiency is clear communication. Be direct, be respectful and provide all information necessary for each party to do their job. Being tasked with a project with incomplete information can overwhelm and sometimes cripple an already-swamped employee. Be clear about your instructions and deadline and always follow up. It’s also a good idea provide written details if the instructions were given verbally. If something’s critical or timely, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and communicate the old fashioned way. A phone call is a lot harder to overlook than an email. Making sure your employees have what they need from the beginning will help improve their time management and eliminate unnecessary edits or back-and-forth later. Take your breaks and weekends. If your company gives you a lunch break, take it. Use it. Step away from your desk and your phone, enjoy your lunch and decompress from your morning. “Catching up on emails” may seem like no big deal, but it can be a big contributor to your stress. The world is not going to end if you take 15-30 minutes to clear your mind and eat. You may just find that stepping away may be equally as powerful as that 10th cup of coffee in giving you that second wind to finish your work day. The same applies for your weekends! They are the only two days that you have for JUST YOU. You can either bring your work home and pretend you are going to do it, then feel guilty all weekend for neglecting it. Or you can commit to keeping your weekends sacred and come to work Monday morning feeling rejuvenated and motivated to kick back into gear. Moral of the story, it is okay and healthy to take a brake. Be flexible. Unfortunately, hiccups are guaranteed in any work environment. No matter how tiny or how astronomical the issue, react with a calm and clear head. Nothing constructive is going to come from a meltdown. The best thing to do is push through the obstacles and complete the task at hand, first. Then, if there was a way the problem could have been avoided, talk to management or your HR department. Sometimes the biggest stresses within the workplace are the internal issues. The good news is that not everything is your problem. HR departments were created for this reason. Once you’ve done everything that is within your responsibility to do, take a deep breath, and let it go. Celebrate the triumphs. Give credit where credit is due. A little praise will not only keep your team motivated, but can also boost your office morale. It is contagious, inspiring, and necessary to keep everyone in good spirits. There is nothing more rewarding than being acknowledged for the work you have done. Whether it’s baked goods at your next meeting, or an office happy hour after work, setting aside time to celebrate office triumphs is a great way to give your employees a little mini-vacation. Implementing these simple tips to de-stress your workplace will ensure everyone is happy, productive, and not calling in sick every other week.