No matter your company’s size of industry, there is no doubt that you and your employees have to deal with stress, anxiety and burnout. Even though you may be dealing with managing your own stress, one of your jobs as a leader in your small business is to find ways to help your employees manage these difficult times and come out better from them. An article from the Harvard Business Review online gives some practical and easy to implement ideas for managing employee stress, anxiety and burnout.
Model and encourage well-being practices. The first step is for you to manage your own stress and demonstrate that to your employees. Your emotions will rub off on your employees, so if you are stressed or anxious, your employees likely will be too. Luckily, they converse is also true. If you model how you are managing your stress for your employees, they will be able to duplicate that. Don’t be afraid to take breaks, go for a walk outside, have a few laughs with your employees. Show them that you know it is important that they (and you) take a break, especially during busy or challenging times.
Allow time to disconnect outside of work. This is again a good behavior to model for employees. Avoid call or emailing employees after business hours unless it is an absolute emergency. Encourage employees to leave, go home and spend time doing things they enjoy once they have put their time in for the day.
Train the brain to deal with chaos. There is no doubt that chaos can occur in your business. Be prepared and know how to deal with it. Give your employees the tools they need to handle stressful situations. Practice mindfulness, meditation or other relaxation techniques before the stressful situations occur and then encourage employees to use what they have learned.
Emphasize “monotasking” for greater productivity. There have been so many studies done about multi-tasking and all of them come to the same conclusion. Multi-tasking is not the most productive way to work. Instead encourage employees to focus on one project at a time for the highest performance and least stress.
Be purposeful about “gap” time during the work day, or slow periods over the course of the working year. This goes back to modeling well-being practices. Again, make sure your employees know that they are expected and encouraged to take breaks. If necessary structure this, for example with a 10 minute break after every 90 minutes of work. Also, use slow times during the year to build up the skills needed to handle the more challenging times (like the mindfulness skills referenced above). Also use these times to have a little fun with your employees.
Exercise empathy and compassion. Being kind to your employees helps reduce their stress and anxiety. Imagine if you had to worry about how to handle your interactions with your boss in addition to the rest of your stressful work. Be someone who is easy to work with and work for. Show compassion and understanding for your employee’s emotions. Get to know your employees and what is important to them.
When the leaders in your organization take the time to help your employees manage stressful times, you will see your employees grow both professionally and personally.