14 Ways to Build Morale and Relieve Stress in the Office for Increased Productivity
By Jade C. Pulman
Have you ever been in the office but your mind was roaming, and you couldn't concentrate? It turns out that you are part of the 36 percent of U.S workers who suffer work-related stress, according to a study by Harvard. The effect has been $30 billion lost in workdays.
It is evident that there is a silent killer in most workplaces – stress. It loiters in the shadows and depletes the workmates of their concentration and confidence. Although pressure is part of everyday life, a lot of it can result in a dire effect on productivity, morale and the company's profits.
Business leaders and employers ought to take actionable steps towards curbing stress and improving morale in the office. It is not the easiest mission to embark on, but its effects are worth the effort. Here is how you can encourage a stress-free workplace.
1. Look out for the symptoms of low morale
Before you dive into the solutions, you should first monitor the employees to know when they are stressed. Unfortunately, low drive is not always apparent. So, you should take time to identify the signs that might go unnoticed. Most workers are not open to talking about their frustrations to their team leaders, supervisors, and bosses. You should be intentional with regards to spotting the symptoms and addressing them accordingly. Generally, the signs of low morale are:
- Increased turnover rates
- Lack of cooperation
- Poor performance
- Rare personal initiatives
- Few personal conversations
2. Identify the risk factors
Many issues would cause low morale among employees. Identifying the risk factors will help you deal with the issue before it gets severe. When employees are not feeling challenged enough, they are likely to lose morale because there is no sense of growth. Change in leadership and leadership issues are likely to have a direct impact on employee drive. When workers do not understand what is expected of them, they are likely to experience stress.
3. Encourage open dialogue between the employees and the leaders
As seen above, one of the reasons why workers feel stress is because of poor leadership. Negative relations between managers and workers are likely to result in stress-related effects like anxiety, sleep issues, and high blood pressure.
The best part is that it does not always have to end tragically. Leaders can take management classes, where they train on communicating better with the employees and learn how to work positively with their juniors. When managers learn how to deal with negative feedback from employees, they will handle conflicts amicably.
4. Acknowledge employees efforts
It is natural to focus on accomplishing more of what is ahead instead of appreciating what you have achieved previously. Taking time to reflect on individual efforts that have led to where the company is at the moment will help the employees to feel appreciated. Instruct the team leaders to point out on the milestones that individual employees have made. Create a criterion for selecting the best employees and develop a reward system. The rewards can be as sophisticated as buying cars or personalized gifts from Corvette accessories. Typically, the higher the value of the reward, the higher the motivation employees have to reaching their goals no matter the height.
5. Allow time for personal projects
Even when employees are doing projects they are passionate about; they are likely to get discouraged if they feel that they are doing "work" projects only. For instance, a software developer may lose morale if he or she only works on assigned projects without getting some free time to work on their creative projects. You can choose a specific day of the month when you work only on personal creative projects. It could even be two hours a week.
6. Inspire positivity through positivity
To effectively reduce stress in the workplace, managers ought to lead by example. As a leader, you should work on your emotions and do not allow them to project on the employees or in the workplace negatively. Practice what you preach and ensure you work on your feelings and find time to de-stress. Enjoy some quality time with your family, go out for social functions with friends and exercise regularly. When the leader is a good role model, the employees will feel encouraged to manage their stress.
7. Redecorate the office
Do you recall when you last thought of changing the décor, furniture or office setup? If it has been a while, consider changing it. In case you have some spare time, you can engage the employees in suggesting the changes they desire within the office. Only a few activities can make better team-building moments than redecorating the office. A few alterations will go a long way in boosting morale and productivity in the office.
8. Make the workers know that their work is more than a mere "job"
Every person is happier when they see that they have a high purpose in life. When employees are too engraved in their work, they are likely to lose their goal, which makes them discouraged and unhappy. Ask the employees to suggest ways through which they believe that they can achieve their mission while at the workplace. Go through the suggestions and find ways of implementing them. Creating time for charity activities and allowing your employees to school is an excellent way of achieving this.
9. Bring in experts
It is possible that workplace stress is caused by organizational issues. As such, bringing in third-party experts like career coaches and business consultants will help you to deal with these issues. Allow the experts to analyze the work environment so that they can give you practical solutions to implement. The speakers can offer suggestions on new ways of working that will improve their mood and reduce stress levels in the workplace. Organizations will generally offer their services as employee engagement consultants so not to be confused about the lingo of business consulting. They really help to increase the engagement of all employees with a few suggestions.
External help does not have to be limited to physical and mental wellness. You can bring in computer experts to train employees on how to fix computer problems that interfere with their workflow and make them stressed.
10. Consider flexible work schedules
In case your employee has an ailing family member, their work demands at home might become overwhelming, and they end up under performing at the workplace. Allow employees to have a flexible work schedule when the circumstances do not favor the traditional routine. They do not have to ask for the favor, so, grant it whenever you feel that they are in need. You can allow them to work remotely sometimes, especially when they cannot make it work due to unavoidable situations.
11. Communication is crucial
Stress is often a result of the feeling of losing control. The belief that something is not achievable or the pressure of missing a deadline can quickly put someone under chronic stress. Implementing an open communication culture in the organization will provide a platform for employees to raise their issues and deal with the workplace stressors easily.
As the leader, you should be at the forefront of encouraging open discussions. You should also be up-to-date with the latest changes in the company. When you foster a communication culture, employees will feel confident talking to you about their ideas, thoughts, and concerns. In the end, it will foster strong working relationships.
12. Give them a break
Work cultures that focus on non-stop work have detrimental effects on the workers. If your employees are overloaded with work duties and have to sacrifice their leisure time to complete a project, it is time you restructure their workload. You may do this by changing your expectations or hiring additional employees to ease the work. Encourage them to take short breaks during the day and power naps when possible.
13. Create a chill-out zone in the office
With regards to giving the employees a break, you can consider creating a chill-out room in the office where everyone can relax when they feel exhausted. It can be a quiet room without any technological influences. When the workers feel tired in the middle of the workday, they may go into the room and relax for a few minutes. Make sure the room has comfortable seats and paint the walls using a neutral color. A pleasant and relaxed environment is excellent for boosting happiness.
14. Promote workplace wellness practices
The essence of exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle can never be overemphasized. The benefits of wellness go as far as combating stress in the workplace. Employee wellness initiatives like having a gym within the building, paying gym membership for the workers or giving them healthy snacks will improve the mood in the workplace considerably. Encourage them to work on their health by providing incentives. For instance, you can allow them an hour in a week to go to the gym.
Your employees are directly responsible for executing your company's mission and goals. Keeping them happy, motivated and stress-free will go a long way in ensuring that the organization achieves its goals. Although monetary perks are a good way of boosting morale, there is more to that. Make sure that the workplace environment is friendly and positive. Managers should work on fostering positive relationships with the employees to improve communication channels in the workplace. Remember that a happy employee breeds quality work, which eventually leads to a successful company.