Workplace stress can be a stone cold killer.
It may sound melodramatic to say it like that, but it actually does contribute to ill health and, in extreme cases, death.
Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, in his book “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—And What We Can Do About It,” says workplace stress can play a role in as many as 120,000 deaths each and every year down in the United States.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), stress in the workplace can come from any number of areas. Physical, mental and emotional stress all have different sources that can be dealt with in different ways.
A stressful workplace can lead to physical ailments such as headaches, high blood pressure or chest pains and it can lead to mental difficulties like forgetfulness, insomnia, anxiety and fatigue. These can combine to alter people’s behaviour, causing outbursts and distraction among many other dangers in the workplace.
Clearly, dealing with workplace stress is important, so the question becomes; what can a franchise operator do to alleviate stress in the workplace?
Obviously, it would be impossible to get into too much detail, as each workplace is different, but as an employer, you should do what you can to be aware of the sources of stress and deal with the source of it when you can.
As an example, CCOHS says, if your workplace environment is too loud, you should do something that addresses excessive noise. If people are experiencing repetitive strain, you should redesign workstations and tasks to help avoid this.
Job design plays a crucial role in cutting down stress. It should accommodate employees’ mental and physical abilities without pushing them beyond their limits. These job design guidelines from the CCOHS can help you minimize workplace stress:
- The job should be reasonably demanding without being based on ‘sheer endurance.’
- The job should provide the employee with at least a minimum of variety in job tasks.
- The employee should be able to learn on the job and have opportunities to continue learning as their career progresses.
- The job should comprise at least a little decision making that the employee has control over.
- The workplace should have some degree of social support and recognition.
- The employee should feel the job leads to some sort of desirable future.
Assessing a Workplace for Stress
The CCOHS suggests employers assess the workplace for the risk of stress. When doing so, employers should look for pressures at work that could cause high and/or long lasting levels of stress, and try to ascertain who may be harmed by these pressures. Obviously, employees should be consulted when doing the assessment.
When the assessment has been done, employers should then determine what can be done to prevent the pressures from becoming negative stressors.
Employers can address stress in many ways. Some of the dos and don’ts for addressing workplace stress include:
- Treat all employees in a fair and respectful manner.
- Take stress seriously and be understanding to staff under too much pressure.
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms that a person may be having trouble coping with stress.
- Involve employees in decision-making and allow for their input directly or through committees, etc.
- Encourage managers to have an understanding attitude.
- Be proactive by looking for signs of stress among staff.
- Provide workplace health and wellness programs that target the true source of the stress.
- Incorporate stress prevention or positive mental health promotion in policies or your corporate mission statement.
- Make sure staff has the training, skills and resources they need to be successful in their positions.
- Design jobs to allow for a balanced workload. Allow employees to have control over the tasks they do as much as possible.
- Value and recognize individuals’ results and skills.
- Provide support.
- Be clear about job expectations.
- Make sure job demands are reasonable by providing manageable deadlines, hours of work, and clear duties as well as work that is interesting and varied.
- Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for those who wish to attend.
- Do not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form.
- Do not ignore signs that employees are under pressure or feeling stressed.
- Do not neglect the root cause of the stress and do not delay addressing these causes as quickly as possible.
All workplaces have a certain amount of stress, but by assessing your workplace, talking to your franchise employees and dealing with the sources of stress as quickly as possible, you can address it and have a mostly stress free workplace. Speaking of being stress free, if you want to take the stress out of looking for a franchise, FranNet can help. Sign up for a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today.