Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stress and Burnout

While not all levels of employee stress are detrimental, and a moderate level of stress can sometimes increase the performance of employees, high levels of stress can be harmful to the functioning of employees and their surroundings.

Irritability, nervousness, and a host of both mental and physical health problems can be a result of over-stressing employees; all detrimental to both the on-job performance and the personal lives of employees.

With studies reporting as high as 60% of employees possessing high levels of stress, the root causes of occupational stressors are understandably common. High demands combined with little decision-making ability, poor supervision, inadequate means for feedback and opinion, instable workplace and lack of quality performance feedback can all contribute to the perfect storm of stress. At the heart of the storm lies the end result of prolonged, un-managed stress; Burnout. The mental, emotional, and even physical exhaustion that can occur in any employee, Burnout is best approached with a proactive role to prevent it before it occurs.

The following steps can be taken to reduce dysfunctional stress in the workplace:

1. Establish effective two way communication channels – a proper mix of personal and impersonal (as some employees may not feel comfortable addressing concerns face-to-face) and frequent communication can assist in relieving workplace stressors before they become insurmountable.
2. Assist Employees in Time Management – guidance and clear deadline and goal setting practices can alleviate performance anxiety, which brings us to the next point:
3. Clear Performance Expectations – with clear expectations, the work environment looses the instability and ‘unsure feeling’ that is a notorious employee stressor.

As previously stated, employee stress is best managed with a proactive approach.
What have you found working as an effective stress management technique? Leave a comment below and share your story.

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