8 Ways for Managing the High-Intensity Workplace
By Emma Williams
Every type of job gets stressful from time to time, and it can't be avoided completely. However, certain workplaces provide a higher level of stress than usual, practically every day, and it's not always the job itself to blame but sheer management and organization of the workplace.
In other words, stress levels at a workplace depend very much on both managers and employees, namely how managers will manage work and employees and how employees cope with stress and organize their time.
No matter whether you are a manager or an employee in a high-intensity workplace, these tips will help you reduce stress at work, function better within a team and be happier at work.
Common sources of work stress
According to the survey of the American Institute of Stress, 46% of causes of stress are the workload given to an employee, followed by people issues (28%), difficult balancing of work and personal lives, as well as job security (6%).
Excessive stress has a strong negative impact both on employees' performance and productivity, as well as their physical and mental well-being. In other words, reducing stress levels at work is highly important for creating a healthy, productive working environment made up of happy, motivated employees.
Of course, there are other causes of work-related stress, including low salaries, poor peer support, limited prospects of advancement, and tasks that are not challenging. According to the survey, 80% of employees said they are under stress at their workplace, and half of them said they need help in learning how to manage stress. The manager's job is to do it but it's also their own responsibility. The following tips can lead to a reduced level of stress at work and they should be adopted by managers and employees.
The manager's part
Encourage employees to be physically active
Everybody's mind needs a break sometimes. So, encourage your employees to find time to exercise at the gym at least twice a week or go jogging. While at work, encourage them to go for a walk during lunch break or to spend 15 minutes of their break doing simple exercises (some of them can be done at the office or break room or there could be a gym provided at the workplace) or even yoga.
Physical activity is a good way of regaining focus and pace yourself at work. Also, you could set up a reminder every two hours for your team to stop and leave the desk where they have been staring at the computer. Encourage them to stretch their bodies and relax their eyes by looking out of the window.
Provide a flexible work environment
People don't have to be monitored constantly in order to do their jobs. So, let them do their jobs at their own pace as long as they meet the deadline and successfully complete the task. Allowing them to be flexible will make them feel less stressed.
Also, allow them to come to work earlier or to leave earlier to pick up their kids from school. You could also introduce them to the option of working from home once every two weeks, so they can change the environment from time to time.
Create a "quiet room"
We all need a mental break sometimes and it's important to enable your employees to gather their thoughts in a quiet, safe place. There, they would be able to calm down, ease down and recollect their thoughts in silence.
This room shouldn't have any office materials, anything reminding them of work. On the contrary, this room should be filled with greenery, luscious plants or flowers, comfortable seating, including a sofa and a comfortable massage chair to relax stiff muscles and ease the back pain and shoulder pain. Soft music should be provided, too, and some relaxing thoughts in the form of posters or even soothing pictures and paintings should be displaid on the walls. Don't let this room become a place for chatter, meetings, and laughter. It should be room for contemplation and solitude.
Promote team-building exercise
Maybe this sounds too cheesy but team-building exercises truly help your employees foster trust among each other, learning they have support from other team members. Developing teamwork through these activities will let your employees know they have a reliable co-worker whom they can turn to when they feel overwhelmed or stressed out.
Provide feedback and appreciation
People love it when their work and effort is appreciated. When you let them know you appreciate what they do for the business, it will be easier for them to deal with fluctuations and stressful situations at work. If you notice that the management system is more focused on criticism and reprimands, stop this bad method and switch to positive reinforcement. Sometimes even neutral reactions have a negative effect - if you don't say anything about a task your employee has completed, it can be seen as a bad thing by the employee. So, it's always a safer bet to congratulate for the completed task and success, celebrate their big wins together, and thank your employees for their hard work from time to time.
Always have in mind that pressuring your employees will create stress. So, simply acknowledge their effort and appreciate what they do - you will motivate them much effectively and reduce their stress levels.
What can employees do for themselves?
Don't be too dependent on the circumstances
We all constantly feel different emotions and have various thoughts crossing our minds. To a great extent, these emotions and thoughts affect how we feel and how stressed we get. Most of us react to circumstances and the external environment. So, if your environment is negative or tense, you tend to be tense, negative and stressed, too. It's important to learn how to break that pattern.
So, realize that you have a choice - you can choose how to respond to external circumstances. You can keep yourself calm and by that managing the circumstances better, keeping stress at bay. This is easier said than done and you won't be able to learn how to do it immediately but practice makes it perfect.
Develop personal inner peace rituals
So, it's clear that it's very difficult to stay calm when there's toxic energy surrounding you and to be resilient to it. However, there's a helpful method in these types of situations - whenever you feel at peace and happy, try to relate that feeling to a specific song or even a gesture. Repeat that song/gesture every time you are in the right mood and soon it will become you "anchor" - every time you feel negative, stressed or overwhelmed at work, use that song/gesture to shift yourself to the feeling of calm and happiness. You will help your mind to ease itself - this is a technique used in NLP, so you can try reading more on that online.
Break free from a negative energy spiral
Sometimes certain actions help us interrupt the negative train of thoughts. So, when you feel negative energy overwhelming you, do something that will shift your mood. For example, listen to a song you love, take a short break, take a short walk outside or think about a person you love. That will break the chain of negative thoughts, changing your focus.
Stress is the number one cause of many illnesses, both physical and mental. We are constantly exposed to it, so it's highly important we reduce its level to a minimum when we are at work. After all, we spend around one-third of our day at work, making a huge part of our lives open to worries, anxiety, and stress.
Learning how to cope with a high-intensity workplace, whether you are a manager or an employee, will have a great positive effect on you and the people around you. It's a win-win situation for everybody involved.
Emma Williams (Twitter) is an Australian writer with a master‘s degree in business administration, who has a passion for anything lifestyle and design related. She spends most of her time redecorating and participating in house projects. As a great nature lover, her biggest pleasure is spending time in a small cottage by the river.