While some amount of stress – such as having a schedule with deliverable dates – can help in workplace productivity, too much stress can have the opposite effect, making workers less productive, and even leading to depression and other health issues. Workers who are stressed are less committed to their jobs and have more absences and a higher level of turnover.
According to the World Health Organization, “Stress results from a mismatch between the demands and pressures on the person, on the one hand, and their knowledge and abilities, on the other. It challenges their ability to cope with work.”
The demands and pressures of a job can be addressed by looking at how your organization is structured. Are the expectations reasonable and realistic? Or do you need more employees, or to divide the workload differently?
Are the project timelines realistic, and is adequate slush time built in to handle unforeseen setbacks? Look at the past few months, or years, if possible, to get a sense of whether the schedule and workload are realistic. Have deadlines been met? Has the staff turnover rate been high?
On the ability side, you need to determine whether your workers have the skills they need, or if there are specific skills they can be trained in. Online assessments for specific job areas are a great way to get a clear picture of this. You can create skills tests that include all of the knowledge areas for the position, and assess each employee to see if there are specific areas they are lacking in. Then, provide training as needed or think about reorganizing the workflow to maximize current skills.
In addition, corporate culture can go a long way toward minimizing job stress. Try to give each employee as much control as possible, and to involve him or her in decision-making when you can. A sense of control goes a long way toward lessening job stress.
And perhaps the most important aspect is providing support for your workers. Make sure they know that your door is open, or that they can speak to their immediate supervisor if they have concerns. And be sure to encourage positive action by noticing when things go well, and letting your employees know that they are valued and appreciated.
Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a global platform for complete candidate skills and job fit assessment. eSkill’s online skills testing is used by thousands of employers for pre-employment assessment and staff benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they're best at, and that they enjoy.