We know stress at work is bad for the health of your colleagues, and worse for the health of your organization. But we don’t always know how to fix it – even when the solutions are staring us right in the face.
Today’s technology-fueled whirlwind of responsibilities affects our stress levels and emotional well-being. To such an extent that coping with stress is one of the biggest and toughest daily challenges of our workforce.
Owning our stressors is the first step to managing them – both for you and your employees. With that goal in mind, we caught up with a few professional life coaches about Corporate America’s most common causes of workplace stress, and how to deal with them.
- Stressor: Blurred Lines
Does working full-time mean working all the time at your organization? Bookending a day at the office with calls, texts and emails can set the stage for a vicious cycle that sets employees on the road to burnout. A lack of boundaries between work and home and a stable schedule can be the ultimate stress-feeder.
Quick Fix: Work Hard at Hardly Working
To the extent that you can, limit off-hours and weekend communications to emergency situations. When you’re able to unplug during time away from the office, you’re likely to be more refreshed, recharged and engaged when you return to work.
Read More About: How Flex Work is Killing Work-Life Balance
- Stressor: Email Madness
Your inbox might as well be Pandora’s box. It’s a necessary evil, but seriously: Who has an hour to decode 27 non-sequential replies to a thread on which you were cc’d? Emails are a major source of employee stress – especially now that checking email at night and on weekends is an expectation for many.
Quick Fix: Archive. Archive. Archive.
Set up folders to sort your email using a system that makes sense to you. And be judicious with replies. Figure out who really needs to be kept in the loop and then cut the cord – people will understand, and appreciate it. And try to keep the off-hours emails to a minimum; if you wouldn’t mark it as urgent during the weekday, don’t send it at night or on the weekend.
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- Stressor: Hectic Home Life
Stress at home means stress at work – it’s a fact of life. When your dog’s at the vet, or your kid is sick, or your mom’s in the hospital or your sink’s overflowing with dirty dishes, it’s tough to compartmentalize and focus completely on your work. But we bottle it up and rarely admit how much what’s happening at home can affect our job performance and productivity.
Quick Fix: Open Lines of Communication
When life happens, don’t be afraid to open up to your colleagues about it, says Libby Gill, a life coach, consultant and author. Whether you you’re adjusting to parenthood or clashing with siblings over how to care for an aging parent, sharing your story can be cathartic – and even helpful. Many leading employers have begun offering support systems and family-friendly benefits for when unpredictable care needs arise. Sometimes, you just have to ask.
Learn: The Biggest Issues Working Moms and Dads Face
- Stressor: Micromanagement
It’s cliché to say there’s a difference between managing and leading. But it’s true. When managers need to lord over every little detail, it’s more harmful than helpful. Understandably, is a recurring source of workplace stress.
Quick Fix: Treat People Like Adults
Teach your managers to treat employees like adults and trust that, if given the freedom to complete their tasks in the way that’s best for them, they’ll deliver their best work. “Employee engagement is highest when they feel like they have control over their work,” says Laura Gmeinder, a consultant and career coach. “Avoid micromanagement, and look for ways to instill self-leadership in your employees.”
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- Stressor: Disorganization
A mess at home or on your office desk is another common cause of stress at work. Disorganization can be distracting and lead to last-minute craziness as buried tasks are easily forgotten.
Quick Fix: Plan on Planning
Use calendars to plan ahead and utilize online platforms to organize different work projects and prevent unnecessary clutter. Planning ahead, and updating those plans, is especially important to stay on track. “Think, what’s the biggest thing I’m going to tackle this year,” suggests Gill. “Write down: This coming year I want to ____ and fill in the blank. People usually fall off track when they don’t build in factors for accountability.”
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- Stressor: Doing Too Much
We’re all guilty of trying to do too much too fast as we try to get ahead. Working from home, taking on new tasks and skipping vacation to impress the boss and earn a promotion. Add to that the hyper-scheduled lives we live outside of work and it’s a recipe for burnout.
Quick Fix: Do Something for Yourself
Start being more protective of your time. Say “No” once in a while. Block off time on your calendar. Take a yoga class. Do whatever it takes to limit your tendencies toward overwork. Burning the candle at both ends might seem like a quick way to get ahead, but burnout is quicker way to setback your career.
For more on coping with job-related stress, check out Care.com's Guide to Managing Stress