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Today’s highly competitive work environment makes work related stress commonplace. Three out of four employees in the United States report some stress levels, and employers forego an estimated $200 billion per year owing to stress induced absenteeism, lower productivity, turnover, workers' compensation, and medical insurance. Organizations that devise effective stress management training and techniques for the workplace remain in good stead to leverage more of their human assets.
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Very often, lack of awareness of working conditions, uncertainties about the future, and ambiguous instructions leaves the worker confused on what to do creates stress. Some ways to resolve such states and reduce stress includes:
- Promote a culture of learning and sharing, where employees make a determined and systematic effort gain more knowledge and share the same with others, creating a more experienced organization.
- Improve quality of communications by developing and enforcing a comprehensive communication policy, and by providing and asking details that remove vagueness and ambiguity.
- Encourage and promote informal training mechanisms, such as workers clarifying doubts with experts over coffee breaks, having an open organization where anyone can seek clarification or approach from anyone for work related doubts and clarifications.
- Improve awareness on healthy foods, such as the best power foods, healthy eating habits, and more. If possible, make available such foods available in the cafeteria.
Reducing stress requires the affected employee spending time with an expert counselor to identify stress symptoms and develop appropriate coping mechanisms. Such counseling also allows employers to identify and adopt good lifestyle practices such as adequate rest and sleep, refraining from drug and substance abuse, and other dimensions outside the employers’ direct scope of control.
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Anxiety and tension owing to the inability to perform at required levels of competence causes stress. Some stress management training and techniques for the workplace to resolve such issues are:
- Conduct skills assessment and provide training to bridge skill deficiencies and thereby enhance job competence.
- Provide training to sharpen communication skills. Good communications makes expectations clear, conveys the correct message to the recipients, allows better comprehension, and facilitates better feedback. It also allows expressing one’s feelings properly, and thereby resolves conflicts better.
- Provide assertiveness training. Mastering hostile or adverse situations that cause stress requires a proactive approach and handling the situation with confidence.
- Facilitate time management. Equipping employees with the ability to make good use of limited time by prioritizing and other methods allowing them to exercise better control of the situation, and remain up-to-date in performance of work and life tasks, reducing pressure and thereby, lessen stress considerably.
- Facilitate anger management. Providing employees with training that equips them with techniques to control their anger reduces stress considerably. Anger is a normal and important emotion, but can cause emotional overload and lead to irrational behaviors. Anger management involves recognizing symptoms when anger builds up, taking time out to get physical responses under control, adopting techniques such as taking slow deep breaths and other physical coping mechanisms, and finally reappraising anger. Such approaches closely resemble conflict management skills.
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Improve Work Conditions
Overwork resulting from the relentless pursuit of targets or expectations sap a person’s energy and lowers concentration, increases mistakes, decreases productivity, and eventually causes burn out. Healthy diversions allow the worker to do something creative and divert the mind. Some pointers in this direction include:
- Set aside an hour or two once or twice a week, or devote a portion of the lunch break for stress busting competitions and fun games.
- Organize outings or short excursions on weekends, packed with activities such as hiking, adventure sports, or anything else that soothes the mind and provides a total break from the work atmosphere.
- Arrange for daily meditation, yoga class, aerobics, guided imagery instructions, isometric squeeze relaxation exercises, diaphragmatic breathing exercises or anything similar every morning and evening, hiring specialized trainers for this purpose. Just 20 minutes of aerobic activity or even brisk walking, three times a week alleviates stress greatly.
- Make provisions for sports and games such as roller skating/blading, table tennis, any other team or individual sports, or even video games before or after work hours.
- Allow employees the facility of using a health club for regular workouts. A body in good shape reduces stress levels considerably.
All these activities help to improve an employee’s physical activity, promote bonding among colleagues, and helps build a support system, all factors that reduce stress significantly. To ensure these interventions serve their desired purpose, fix a specific time and level of activities as part for a structured program, and allow tweaking the work routine to incorporate such activities.
Improving office ergonomics, enhancing lighting, ventilation, or cooling, providing soothing music to those interested, and other similar interventions reduce physical stress directly related to work. Flextime and other work schedules wherever possible to cater to employees special needs may help effect a better work-life balance and eliminate a major source of workplace stress.
Proper application of stress management practices allows employees to remain calm under crisis or uncertainty and brings more stability to the job, increasing productivity and job satisfaction, and by extension, better job performance and customer satisfaction.
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- Maxon, Rececca. "Stress in the Workplace: A Costly Epidemic." http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/99su/stress.html.%20Retrieved%20June%2024, 2011.
- Deborah Antai-Otong. "Creative Stress-Management TechniquesFor Self-Renewal." https://docs.fajardo.inter.edu/Acad/ecolon/Lists/Asignqciones/Attachments/1/Creative%20stress%20Management%20Techniques.pdf. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
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