Workplace stress is gearing up as the veil of COVID-19 has started to lift. Our workplaces are going through a major evolution. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, workplaces have gone through significant change. Now, many people are returning to work and face a whole new dynamic due to these changed work environments. Additionally, the continuation of work from home options can cause other job-related stress. As businesses move toward capacity, many are understaffed as those who were laid off contemplate other options for their future.
The economy is improving. However, mental health professionals are pointing towards an increase in job-related stress and anxiety. Even when people return to work, extreme stress is constraining productivity. This article explores some of the main reasons for workplace stress and tips for managing them.
What are the Reasons for Workplace Stress?
The nature of work at most companies is highly competitive and there is a pressure to maximize productivity. The support of a solid team and social interaction help reduce the negative impact of this type of environment. But, in the new normal workplaces these supports may not be as available. With continued social distancing and work-from-home protocols, employees may have less personal connection with their colleagues and continue to rely on digital mediums. Further, numerous other factors are contributing to increase stress at workplaces. The main reasons for workplace stress are outlined below.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, remote meetings are the new norm. There was a multi-fold increase in virtual meetings. Therefore, employees are spending an enormous amount of time staring at their computer screens for these meetings on top of their usual time at the computer. This is leading to stress due to fatigue.
Anxiety about job loss
Many businesses are going through a difficult time as they gear their operations back up. There is also a lot of uncertainty which can create insecurity among the workforce. Many workers are revaluating their career choices.
Lack of work-life balance
Work from home is blurring the lines between working hours and personal time. With remote collaboration applications, people are working schedules that are more uncertain or different hours. Frequent meetings, tight deadlines, etc., are pushing a large section of employees towards extreme work pressure.
Fear of being unproductive
There is a significant decline in workplace productivity post-pandemic. This is common across business functions and sectors. The restriction in movement and variations in sales activity are major contributors to this. For peak-performers in a company, this can negatively impact their mental health. The guilt feeling of being unproductive is causing job stress in such people.
Tips for Reducing Workplace Stress
Workplace stress reduces productivity and hurts the business. Moreover, it can impact employees physical wellbeing, increase absenteeism, distract workers from the job and reduce performance. As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic subside, workplace stress is a serious concern. Managers must devise innovative methods to tackle this. Every company should make sure that the workplace is employee-friendly when they return to a normal work routine. Meanwhile, check out these workplace tips to reduce job stress for your employees.
Be Aware of and address employee stress
Management should understand that employees will get stress. A certain level of stress is normal, but you should watch for signs of individuals and teams showing signs of more significant stress. Try to understand what might be happening to cause this increase in stress levels. For example, recently introduced changes in the workplace, uncertainty about job security, concern about safety, or work overload. Ensure you communicate clearly with employees, listen to their concerns and address concerns with individuals or the group depending on the situation.
Allow for social interaction
In most companies, endless Zoom meetings and work-related discussions are happening daily. During the pandemic, Individuals have felt isolated, and most are craving in person interaction as restrictions have subsided. Encourage opportunities for interaction amongst workers with team projects and allowing people to have reasonable time for social exchange between co-workers. During intense periods, occasional use of games can lighten things up and allow workers to relax a bit.
Review HR policies
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people of all ages, including workers and their families. For companies, this is a good time to review and revise HR policies to fit the current circumstances. Be sure policies are updated to include, new federal state and local requirements , including COVID safety protocols, as well as paid or unpaid leave requirements. Especially for employees caring for others, options for flexible work arrangements and leave options are important. Knowing such options are available would be a great stress relief for most employees.
Facilitate vaccination for your employees
Vaccination is proving to be a game-changer in arresting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Facilitating vaccination for your employees and their family members is a good way of boosting their confidence. And, It can bring down workplace stress in the current situation. Communicate vaccination options in the community and allow time off for vaccinations.
Provide access to mental health support
Mental health encompasses a wide range of aspects. Even minor stress and anxiety can eventually transform into serious issues in the future. Be sure that employees in need are aware of support options available for professional help to reduce work-related stress. For example, this could be either through employer programs or through community resources.
Businesses across the globe are adapting to the new normal set by the COVID-19 scenario. At this juncture, it is very crucial to pay attention to workplace stress faced by your employees. Devising new strategies with empathy can help your employees navigate through these difficult times. Finally, always remember that this is very significant for your business growth and productivity.
Check up-to-date CDC information for workplaces and businesses. You also might find Getting Back to Work in the “New Normal” helpful.