Nigel J Armitt, more than forty years as an international career executive. Now an executive coach and mentor, working in the UK, Europe, and Middle East for many large diverse corporate organisations in the private and public sectors, PE, VC, and charity sectors. Many of these organisations had been going through significant transformational change and also financial restructuring, therefore operating in very challenging and stressful environments. Worked as a turnaround expert and CFO. Leading large teams and advising the CEO and Board. An author, Qualified NLP Master Practitioner, and recently won an award for the Finance Team of the Year, whilst working 100% remotely delivering a major business transformation and financial turnaround.
Question: Are all the Executive team and employees happy at work and have no underlying stress or burnout symptoms?
Did you know?
- 80% of workers feel stress on the job
- Nearly 50% say they need help in learning how to manage stress
- 42% say their co-workers need such help
- 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress
- 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent Feb 2023 www.stress.org
In today’s fast-paced and competitive work environment, stress has become an all too familiar companion for employees across all industries. Stress in the workplace not only affects the mental and physical well-being of individuals but also has a significant impact on productivity and business outcomes. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the causes and consequences of workplace stress and provide practical strategies to combat this silent productivity killer.
As background working as a Turnaround CFO, I experienced burnout in one stressful environment brought on by working in a very highly demanding, time-critical, financial turnaround situation. This was due to the continuous workloads over a 2-year period, required to rescue and deliver a major business transformation, added to which there was a very non-supportive toxic Board. The only way to recover from this burnout was to take a month’s break from work, after which the mind and body returned to a normal stress-free state.
The Causes of Workplace Stress
Workload and Time Pressure: Excessive workload, tight deadlines, and unrealistic expectations given to employees can all contribute to stress in the workplace. When employees feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to accomplish within a limited time frame, stress levels rise, leading to diminished performance and increased frustration.
Lack of Job Security: Uncertain job prospects and the fear of layoffs can create a constant state of anxiety among employees. The need to constantly prove their worth and fear of losing their livelihood can significantly impact their stress levels and overall well-being.
Poor Work-Life Balance: In today’s connected world, achieving a healthy work-life balance has become increasingly challenging. Long working hours, constant connectivity (mobile, internet, social media), and limited time for personal relationships and self-care lead to chronic stress and burnout.
The Consequences of Workplace Stress
Reduced Productivity and Performance: Stressed employees are less able to focus, make decisions, and solve problems effectively. This ultimately hampers their productivity and results in lower-quality work output.
Increased Absenteeism and Employee Turnover: High levels of stress contribute to increased absenteeism as employees take time off to cope with their mental and physical health issues. Stressed staff can easily resort to long periods of sick leave. Additionally, prolonged exposure to workplace stress often leads to dissatisfaction and burnout, resulting in higher turnover rates and higher recruitment costs plus temporary staff to cover for sick staff.
Negative Impact on Mental and Physical Health: Workplace stress has both short-term and long-term consequences on an employee’s mental and physical well-being. It can lead to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious health conditions.
Poor employee morale: Caused by continued exposure to high-stress levels, causing dissatisfaction and a negative work atmosphere leading to employees seeking a more pleasant and less demanding job.
Negative impact on teamwork and collaboration: Due to tension and internal conflict among the team caused by internal stress.
Reduced creativity and innovation: Stress limits or inhibits employee’s ability to think creatively and produce solutions, which stifles any organisational growth
Decreased customer satisfaction: Employees are not able to focus and produce lower levels of customer service resulting in reduced customer satisfaction.
Strategies to Combat Workplace Stress
Cultivate a Supportive and Positive Work Environment: Organisations can create a supportive work environment by promoting open communication, fostering positive relationships, and providing resources for stress management and mental health support.
Implement Work-Life Balance Programs: Encouraging employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance is crucial in minimising workplace stress. Action: Offer flexible work arrangements (hybrid, work from home), promoting wellness activities (yoga, mindfulness training, gym membership), and encourage time off (paternity, maternity) are effective strategies to help employees achieve work-life harmony.
- Set clear boundaries that everyone understands and ensure there are time and resources to take care of personal needs and interests outside of work.
- Set a policy to stop any out-of-work hour emails or telephone calls
Provide Stress Management Training and Resources: Equipping employees with stress management techniques and resources can empower them to better cope with workplace stress. Set up training programs on mindfulness, time management, and resilience can significantly enhance employees’ ability to handle stressors effectively. Time management gives employees the feeling they are in control of their daily schedule and as a consequence leads to less stress.
Job redesign: Re-assess and modify job roles to reduce stress
Ques: Are the Total number of tasks being performed by the employee more than one person can realistically deliver in the timescales set?
Leaders should set realistic expectations: Clear and attainable goals for the team and ensure the workload is manageable.
Delegating responsibility: Effective delegation of tasks and responsibilities reduces stress levels for themselves and also team members.
Conflict resolution: Resources to be made available to resolving workplace conflicts in a constructive manner. Conflict between individuals is a stressor and therefore should be managed effectively by resolving it urgently.
Provide resources for self-care: Like exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation techniques. Gym membership or wellness programs.
Encourage regular breaks: This must be throughout the day, allowing recharge and reducing stress levels. Short breaks for stretching or walking as well as meal breaks. Make it your policy to avoid back-to-back meetings Video or face to face are not good for stress levels because of the continuous pressure to perform and no breaks for exercise or even bathroom breaks.
Provide opportunities for growth and Career advancement: Training and development opportunities for employees to enhance their skills and knowledge, reducing any stress related to feeling stagnant or unfulfilled in their current role.
Recognise and appreciate employees: Appreciation for hard work and accomplishments, and providing recognition and rewards boosts morale and reduces stress associated with feeling undervalued or unrecognised.
Lead by example: All managers and executives should prioritise their own well-being and demonstrating healthy coping strategies for stress. They demonstrate calmness, resilience, and emotional intelligence in challenging situations, thereby inspiring their team to do the same.
Stress in the workplace is a pervasive issue that affects both individuals and organisations. By understanding the causes and consequences of workplace stress, organisations can implement effective strategies to foster a healthier and more productive work environment. By promoting work-life balance, cultivating a supportive culture, and providing resources for stress management, companies can combat workplace stress and unlock the full potential of their employees, leading to improved productivity, increased job satisfaction, and enhanced overall business outcomes.