Although COVID-19 cases are surging in California, some businesses are starting to open. This means employees have to report to work again. Not only do they have to face a new normal by following new health and safety protocols, but they also have to experience the usual office stress again.
What causes stress in the workplace?
According to Everest College, 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress. This can be due to excessive workloads, low salaries, and limited prospects for advancement, among others. The pandemic may even exacerbate stress levels.
But as a business owner, you can help your staff find ways to reduce stress in the workplace. Here are a few ideas you can try:
1. Set a flexible work environment
Work flexibility is more important than ever during the pandemic. Allow your employees to set their own work schedules and come into the office whenever they prefer. For instance, some employees may want to come in at an earlier shift due to personal reasons. Or someone may want to work at the office for three days and from home for the rest of the week.
Setting a flexible work environment can reduce workplace stress. Because your employees have control over their schedules, they have better work-life balance, which will improve their morale, productivity, and efficiency. This also limits physical interaction among the staff, which is part of new normal protocols.
2. Be more sensitive to employees’ emotional needs
Encouraging emotional wellness, or the state of being able to understand and accept another person’s feelings, is a great way to help your staff reduce workplace stress. Encourage emotional wellness by empowering employees to seek help. Initiate discussions about stress, depression, and anxiety by conducting interactive surveys.
You can also have regular meetings where everybody shares what they are currently feeling. For instance, employees may talk about their fears due to the pandemic. Help them find the necessary resources, and remind them that it’s okay to ask for help.
3. Inform employees of the facts about COVID-19
Your employees may feel stressed about going out in public because of the coronavirus. There's also a lot of false information circulating that can cause confusion among your staff.
Knowledge helps assuage fears, so inform them of the facts about the virus and what they should do to protect themselves and others. This can significantly reduce workplace stress and help your employees make better connections with others.
4. Remind employees to take regular breaks
Workplace stress can drain your employees’ morale and make them less efficient and productive. Encourage employees to take regular breaks. This will help recharge and stimulate their minds, allowing them to work efficiently for the rest of the day. During their breaks, they can:
- Do some desk stretches.
- Eat a healthy meal.
- Take a quick nap.
- Read inspiring stories online.
- Read a book.
- Organize their desks.
- Join an online class.
- Take a short walk outside (with a mask on!).
- Write about stressors.
- Treat themselves to a cup of coffee.
5. Recognize exceptional performance
Your employees don’t just work to receive their paycheck every month — they also desire to be in a healthy environment that recognizes their hard work. Recognize diligent employees by telling them that they are doing an exceptional job. You can announce it during team meetings to encourage others to do the same. Reward them with useful gifts such as gift cards or a discount to a webinar they want to attend.
Employees respond well when their hard work is recognized because it confirms that their efforts are paying off, and it also reduces their stress significantly.
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