Managing Workplace Stress

Gina Abudi’s bulleted advice for managing stress maps to many of the focus areas coaches help clients work through. Managers who use a coaching orientation in the way they listen and question their people can help individuals identify the sources of their stress and find proactive steps similar to those outlined here to alleviate work-life and work-related pressures.

Gina Abudi, MBA
Guest blogger, Gina Abudi has over 20 years of consulting experience in the areas of strategic development, project and process management, and management and leadership development. Gina speaks on a variety of management topics and is co-author of the CIG to Best Practices for Small Businesses (October, 2011) and contributing author to Gantthead’s Project Pain Reliever (July, 2011). She has also written a number of white papers and articles on various management and project management issues. Gina serves as President of the PMI* Massachusetts Bay Chapter Board of Directors and has served on the Project Management Institute’s Global Corporate Council as Chair of the Leadership Team prior to that. Gina has been honored as one of the Power 50 from PMI* – one of  the 50 most influential executives in project management, working to move the profession forward. She is Co-Chair of the NEHRA Program Committee. Visit Gina, and read her articles and papers on: http://www.GinaAbudi.com.

Stress is common. It has been around forever in the workplace and, frankly, is probably more prevalent now than ever before. So many people are working longer hours—layoffs have created increased workloads for those who remain in the business. Additionally, for many individuals, they need to complete tasks much sooner than ever before, as companies try to compete by getting products and services out to market quicker. And on top of that, in some businesses there is so much confusion over who should be performing what role that stress makes it near impossible to successfully get the work done. Tensions at home, due to increasing bills to be paid, financial issues, 401Ks and IRAs losing money, a spouse becoming unemployed and job hunting, trying to balance personal life with longer hours at work, etc. all serve to make us quite stressed out on a daily basis! Stress leads to illness, depression, and family problems. On the job, it also leads to decreased morale, lashing out at fellow employees, and poor work performance. So what can you do as an employee? Realize that stress in the workplace is not going away anytime soon. You need to learn how to manage the stress so that it doesn’t get the best of you. Try some of the following to better manage stress in the workplace:

  • Better manage your time. Create “to do” lists, block time off on your calendar to work on tasks uninterrupted, send your phone to voice mail, and close out email to reduce distractions.
  • Learn some relaxation techniques. Try meditation at the office. Just take 10-15 minutes when you are beginning to feel stressed to meditate and relax.
  • Talk to someone. Don’t keep it all inside: find someone, either inside the office or outside, to talk to about stressful situations. Having someone to talk to often helps reduce the stress.
  • Take advantage of wellness programs. Take advantage of wellness programs and other stress-reduction and relaxation programs offered by your employer.

And what can you do as an employer? Realize that employees may feel stressful on the job due to a variety of reasons. You can help to reduce that stress level by reaching out to your employees and understanding what is causing their stress. Try the following approaches to help reduce employee workplace-related stress:

  • Ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. As the organization changes, roles and responsibilities must change also. Ensure that employees have updated role descriptions and understand their responsibilities within the business.
  • Provide training and professional development opportunities. Provide employees regular opportunities to improve their current skills and gain necessary new skills to be effective in an ever-changing work environment.
  • Conduct regular meetings and offer open, frequent communication. Hold regular meetings with your employees to check in and see where they need your support to meet their goals. Communicate frequently about what is going on in the business and communicate with your employees about their performance.
  • Provide support. Incorporate wellness programs into the benefits you offer employees. Encourage them to take advantage of programs offered.

Workplace stress is here to stay. Find ways to reduce and/or eliminate workplace stress that works for you.

How about you? What methods have you used to reduce workplace stress, either for yourself or employees or project team members? Please share your ideas and suggestions with others here below. Thanks!

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