Getting the most out of your employees is important for any organization, especially small businesses who often have employees wearing multiple hats. In a small business it can be easy to fall into the trap of creating a company culture that values long working hours and rewards employees who put in extra time at the office. But to truly get the most out of your employees and create a work environment that fosters creativity and innovation, it is vital that you minimize employee stress.

A recent article from Entrepreneur gives four ways business leaders can help decrease employee stress inoffice-341531_1280 their organizations.

Get to Know Employees on a Personal Level
Find opportunities to get to know employees on a personal level. Make sure that you aren’t only talking about work when you engage your employees. Burnout is common in organizations who fail to recognize that employees are people with lives and interests outside of the workplace.

Set Realistic Expectations
Clearly communicate your realistic expectations for employee time and production. Keep in mind that just because someone is sitting at their desk for 50 hours a week, it doesn’t mean that the employee is working for 50 hours. Be realistic about the time it takes to complete certain projects when you set deadlines. At A Plus Benefits, we encourage our employees to leave the office at 5:00pm and go enjoy their families, friends, and hobbies outside the workplace.  Maintaining that strict “end time” for the day is important to us and our employees.

Encourage Healthy Practices
Encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day. Ask employees to disconnect at the end of the day (and not read or answer emails in the evenings). Support employees taking vacation time as well. Everyone needs a break to recharge. Without it, employees can become stressed and burned out quickly.

Seek Your Own Balance as Well
As a leader in your organization, it is vital that you practice what you preach. Let employees see you taking a break and chatting with individuals around the office about non-work related topics. Take a vacation, Go to lunch away from the office. Make sure that your leadership team is modeling this type of behavior as well and praising employees who take some downtime.

The key to productivity is not working more hours. Working smarter, knowing when to take a break and finding time to disconnect and recharge are all necessary for maximum productivity for yourself and your employees.