Workplace stress prevention should be elevated to a central issue for management, safety committees and all employees. Begin by evaluating your workplace for the current level of stress and its effects on employees.
All job descriptions should be reviewed and evaluated periodically to provide up-to-date duties, responsibilities and expectations. In the event new duties are added to an individual's role, the revision of their job description provides an ideal opportunity to determine if the workload remains reasonable or if other duties may be shifted or deleted.
Evaluate workloads for respective positions. These workloads should be reasonably balanced without requiring individuals to work too fast, too much or too hard to meet goals and expectations. Working to maintain a balance across positions will help to ensure the required productivity is shared and stress is well distributed. Employee involvement in any job redesign will aid in acceptance of normal levels of stress.
Survey your employees to determine if the level of communication with management is sufficient. Do they feel they lack information? Are they involved or consulted on major decisions? Inquire to see if reporting structures are functional. All employees should feel confident they may share concerns on harassment, bullying or intimidation and that these concerns will be adequately addressed.
Health and Safety
Do your employees feel they have sufficient training to adequately perform the requirements of their job and to do so safely? For many industries, a safety officer or team should be identified for employees to seek assistance or address questions.
Assessing physical working conditions is another key factor in alleviating workplace stress. The work environment should have mitigation plans for noise, excessive heat or cold, and safety hazards.
Employee Development and Recognition
In addition to routine job and safety training, develop additional professional or personal routes to maintain personal development. Service on work committees, access to tuition reimbursement or educational scholarships, wellness programs, community volunteering opportunities and book clubs may help employees attaining increased levels of achievement.
Employees who achieve goals or accomplishments, whether professional or personal, should be rewarded in front of their peers. Recognition is deeply satisfying and can help to offset workplace stress. Recognition may be enhanced with trophies, T-shirts or even cash bonuses.
The hours of work should also be assessed if workers are required to work evening or rotating shifts. Allowing employees to take part in scheduling or to have a voice in the spread of hours or shifts has a positive mediating effecting on workplace stress. Ensure adequate time is provided between shifts for recuperation and for employees to stay home if they are ill. Under routine circumstances, ensure overtime policies are not rewarding excessive hours. Consider work-life balance coaching for employees as a means to increase their job satisfaction.
While workplace stress cannot be eliminated, its mitigation should be expected. The recommendations provided here may represent another step in protecting and serving your employees.
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Reference: Stop Stress at Work: A Guide for Workers, Australian Council of Trade Unions, October 2000