The Importance Of Managing Stress In A Small Business Workplace

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As our talented human resources director came around this afternoon and handed out invitations to a training session for managing stress, it got me to thinking about stress in the workplace and how we manage it.

Let me state my position early on. Workplaces owe it to their employees to offer what they can in terms of stress reduction, and it’s a wise decision to do so. Studies show that stressed-out workers are less productive, have an impact on their fellow employees and significantly increase their long-term

As a small business owner, you have to deal with your own stresses, and still ensure your employees are as happy and productive as they reasonably can be. That can be as tough a balancing act as putting an elephant on a clothesline, but I have some quick tips for you.

Dealing With Stress On Your Own

When I worked in a newsroom at a small local newspaper here in New Hampshire, stress was an unavoidable and constant part of the job. That’s not a knock on my employers, who were a good bunch of people who were under enormous strain themselves. It’s just the nature of a job where something can catch fire, crash or simply turn out differently than anyone anticipated at a moment’s notice.

I can tell you the demands of a job where you’re on red alert throughout much of your day are myriad, and they do add up. I gained weight, slept horribly and had to adjust to going from “sitting at my desk considering how I’m going to write this article” to “zipping down the highway at 70 miles per hour to go to a possibly fatal accident.” The demands of your job are likely much different, but no less stressful in their own right.

How do you manage that level of stress?

At home, make time for yourself. Take time to read, work out, watch television, play video games or visit with friends. All of those things take your mind off stress and allow you to relax, as do any hobbies you generally put on the back burner. Always try to get a good night’s sleep. A complete lack of sleep makes you more stressed, more irritable and generally less capable of dealing with the challenges that will come your way on a daily basis.

At work, your options are more limited, but you can still takes steps to cut down on stress. Take your lunch to enjoy a good meal, go for a long walk or chat with co-workers. Take deep breaths or micro-breaks of a couple of minutes where you can collect your bearings and gather your thoughts. If you’re feeling impossibly overburdened and it’s possible for you to do so, take that concern to your boss

What To Do As An Employer

If you’re an employer, you can do the following:

  1. Offer workshops, training sessions and one-on-one meetings to talk about and mitigate stress.
  2. Clearly define expectations. Make it clear that while employees are expected to work hard and meet their goals, they aren’t supposed to be going bald and gray at the age of 30 doing so.
  3. Post stress-reduction materials around the office, and if possible, offer a free or low-cost hotline to employees.
  4. Set up jeans days, company cookouts, holiday events, etc. These lower stress levels, promote a sense of community in the workplace and, as long as you don’t let them get out of hand, won’t cost you much in productivity.

So that’s my sage advice. Please add yours in the comments!

Photo credit to brainloc at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/704781

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