Nine Tips for Reducing Workplace Stress

Work-related stress claims cost U.S. companies $200 billion to $300 billion annually, according to the American Institute of Stress. Stress can lead to secondary mental and physical illnesses, impacting health care costs, worker productivity, and even resulting in workers’ compensation claims. Work-related stress claims last about four times longer than the average days lost from all nonfatal occupational illnesses and injuries combined, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety defines work-related stress as emotional and harmful responses occurring when job requirements don’t match a worker’s resources, needs, or capabilities. Despite the consequences and costs, some employers still don’t take work-related stress seriously.

To combat the effects of work-related stress, it’s important to understand its causes. According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, the most common workplace stressors include:

  • Poorly designed jobs and tasks, such as heavy workloads, shift work, long working hours, insufficient rest and meal breaks, and tasks lacking meaning or control.
  • Job roles, expectations, and responsibilities that are broadly defined, vague, conflicting, or unclear.
  • Insufficient interpersonal relationships with managers, supervisors, or co-workers, or a poor social environment.
  • Poor management skills, including bad communication, lack of encouragement, or incentives.
  • Lack of opportunities for advancement or job security.
  • Poor workplace conditions, including inadequate ergonomics, air pollution, noise levels, or dangerous working environments.

Steps to Take

Identifying the causes of stress in the workplace can help reduce these factors:

  1. Improve Communications: Involve employees in decision-making and let them know they are valued. Ask for feedback and input on company plans and processes.
  2. Empower Employees: Give employees some independence in their day-to-day operations. Encourage them to think innovatively and improve efficiency.
  3. Create an Open Forum: Allow employees to express frustrations and concerns without fear of retaliation.
  4. Keep Employees Informed: Inform employees about upcoming changes and what these changes mean for them to reduce uncertainty.
  5. Manage Workloads: Avoid overloading employees. Spread out workloads and avoid piling on too many projects at once.
  6. Define Job Descriptions Clearly: Ensure all employees understand their roles and responsibilities.
  7. Create Realistic Work Schedules: Be flexible if employees need time off for personal reasons.
  8. Utilize Employees’ Skills: Challenge and stimulate employees by providing opportunities for advancement and cross-training.
  9. Plan Leisure Activities: Organize company picnics, parties, or team sports to help employees relax and bond.

By addressing these factors, you can help reduce workplace stress and improve overall well-being and productivity.

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