In today’s fast-paced workplaces, managers must balance mission demands with staff well-being. A stressed-out workforce doesn’t support mission success: critical thinking is impaired, people forget to communicate with each other, and staff may not prioritize tasks appropriately.
A certain level of stress can keep people focused. Periodically systematically assessing and evaluating workplace stress can help managers detect shifts to unhealthy stress levels early, so they take actions to regain equilibrium. Here are some indicators that stress levels may be unhealthy:
- People are bickering and complaining more often than normal
- Avoidable errors are becoming more frequent
- Deadlines are being missed
- Attrition or sick leave is going up without a plausible cause
- Complaints about customer service are increasing
- General decision-making and critical thinking is poorer than usual
So, if stress levels appear higher than may be healthy, what can managers do?
- Acknowledge It: naming the problem can make it easier to talk about
- Workplace Exercising: take your team out for a group walk or try selected walking meetings where feasible
- Workplace Breathing: consider starting each meeting with a open breathing session, where everyone present is invited to take 10 breaths in and out together. This communal activity can do wonders in helping everyone slow down
- Individual Check-Ins: check-in with your staff individually, to gauge how different the levels of stress are across the team. Adjust individual workloads if needed
- Recalibrate Mission and Priorities: honestly assess the current priorities against your core mission, goals, performance measures, and priorities. Help your team see where changes may be possible
Part of a manager’s job is to evaluate and act on signs of excessive workplace stress – regularly objectively assessing and evaluating stress levels and taking small steps quickly can help recalibrate and realign.