11 Great Stress Busting Techniques to Use With Your Team
If you’re stressed, it means you’re doing something right… right?
Stress is something that, unfortunately, we’ve all had to deal with at some point and we’ve become accustomed to the idea that, if someone is stressed, they are working hard.
Because of this, stress can appear to be part and parcel of working life and an unavoidable byproduct of success. Listen when I say: “this is not the case!”
Stress is not a byproduct of success, it is a byproduct of being overworked and they are not the same thing. In fact, those who are overworked are more likely to be demotivated and perform poorer.
Here are our 11 stress busting techniques that you can use to create a better employee experience and drive success without creating headaches in your team…
- Have Employees Plan Their Hours
- Provide Regular Relaxation Sessions
- Build Honest Communication
- Keep Track of Employee Holidays
- Reward Time-Keeping
- Keep Track of Staff Social Activities
- Make a List of Successes
- Keep Challenging Your Teams
- Encourage Teamwork
- Reduce Your Own Stress
- Ask For Feedback
1. Have Employees Plan Their Hours
One of the main reasons for stress is an overload of work. We’ve all been there, you are some way to completing your workload for the week when a huge, last-minute project that you hadn’t planned for is thrown at you.
The reason for the stress: so much to do, so little time to do it. That’s the key factor here, time.
There’s a simple way to cut off this kind of stress at the source - planning. You might already plan out your week but this often leads to inaccurate predictions of what is possible to achieve in your weekly timeframe.
It might take you longer but my advice here is to get your employees to plan out their hours. It might sound counterintuitive to take more time out of the week for granular planning but, in the long run, you’ll see more accurate planning of your teams’ weeks and a reduction in stress.
Remember to allow more time than you think is necessary, especially for new tasks you haven’t done before.
2. Provide Regular Relaxation Sessions
This one might be a little more out there but bear with me…
The Japanese have a concept called ‘Kaisen’. It revolves around the idea of continual improvement and this type of thinking caused leaders to examine the way their teams were working, always looking for how it could be improved. Through this, they began to recognise that one of the most important factors of a company’s success is employee physical and mental health.
What did they do with this knowledge? They began exercising at work.
Many Japanese corporations then began to schedule exercise programmes during work hours. One of the pioneers of this approach was a little company called Honda. The key here is that they didn’t just recommend it for their employees to carry out at home, they incorporated the exercises into the working week.
Take a leaf out of the Japanese model, improve your employees’ mental health by incorporating stress busting exercises into your week. You’ll be surprised at the effect it can have.
3. Build Honest Communication
How often do you see this?
An employee is asked to complete an extra task, you look at them and you can see in their eyes that they’re close to breaking point but the word that comes out of their mouth is “okay”. It’s not the word you were expecting at all, was it?
This happens on a daily basis because employees are more afraid of toppling their superiors’ expectations than the pile of work teetering on the edge of their desks. It might surprise you that this could be a product of the environment that exists in your workplace.
You want to create channels of clear and honest communication where employees can be upfront about their concerns over workload and a place where they feel they can say “no”. When employees are comfortable refusing extra work, as long as they can justify why they haven’t got the time, you’ll create a better employee experience and a team that feels comfortable taking on the working day without facing a breakdown at the water cooler.
4. Keep Track of Employee Holidays
Many managers might be keeping a track of employee holidays but for all the wrong reasons. Keeping a leering eye on who isn’t spending enough time in the office.
This is where a shift in thinking is needed. Holidays are there to be used and, as a leader, you should encourage your employees to take them. No one wants to work for a leader who makes his/her employees feel guilty for taking their allocated time off.
Obviously, if an employee would rather not take them all, you can't force them to do so but, if you create an environment where your employees are encouraged to take as much time off as possible, you’ll soon see the benefit as stress levels begin to fall.
5. Reward Time-Keeping
As mentioned, to keep control over workload and time, you want to ensure your staff are planning their time effectively. A great way to encourage this is to reward them for doing so.
If you’re rewarding employees, it can be tempting to offer praise and recognition to those members who stay late and work longer than expected. This doesn’t encourage planning, it rewards poor time-keeping.
By inviting employees to stay late and work longer hours, you breed an environment where they are encouraged to feel stressed. This is the opposite of what you want. Ideally, all work is completed on time and no one stays late.
6. Keep Track of Staff Social Activities
It can be difficult to keep track of stress levels in the workplace because employees will show it in different ways. An employee might keep their feelings to themselves at work but find their stress spilling over to their private life.
This is why it’s important to track your employees’ social activities. I’m not talking about following them home and attending their dog’s birthday party, I mean looking out for signs during team activities away from work.
Be sure to check on the welfare of your teams and you might encounter them displaying unhealthy habits like drinking too much. You might be thinking that this has nothing to do with you but, as a leader, it’s your job to take your employees’ welfare into consideration and take an interest in their lives outside the four walls of the office.
7. Make a List of Successes
It’s a good idea to put some time aside at the beginning of the week, after the break of the weekend, to review the previous week. Take the time here to create a list of everything you think was a success from last week.
What this will do is generate a positive mindset for the week ahead. When you focus on the successes of the past week rather than the failures, it can help to boost motivation and reduces stress on the whole.
Use the time to also plan out what you expect to succeed for the week ahead and you can then review this after its completion. Make sure you roll this activity out as a whole and individual employees. Get them to review their last week and ask them to forget about what they may consider having been a failure.
8. Keep Challenging Your Teams
One reason your employees' stress levels might be higher than you’d like is that they aren’t being challenged enough. Yes, you read that right.
The more regular challenges you can offer your employees, the more competent they’ll be at handling stressful situations and the more resilient they’ll become. Now, I’m not talking about bombarding that stressed employee with even more work but consider that the reason they feel stressed this week is that they aren’t regularly being asked to perform at this level.
If you create a culture where your team feels challenged in their roles then these stressful situations won’t feel like stress at all. They’ll feel like another challenge.
9. Encourage Teamwork
When it comes to the workload of your employees, one great way to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed is to create a culture of teamwork where every member of the team is encouraged to help each other out.
It might seem like a simple concept but one of the best ways to reduce the individual workload is to spread it around. You might even have to directly ask some of your team members to offer their support but, if you do, you’ll begin to start building a culture of reciprocation.
As mentioned previously, it’s a good idea to offer a reward system to recognise those who offer up their own time to take the burden off their teammate. In any great team, you’ll see that, when one member looks stressed due to an overload of work, they’re never short of offers from other team members to help out.
10. Reduce Your Own Stress
Stress can be contagious and, if you are showing that it is getting to you, it can spread in the workplace like a disease. Don’t consider these techniques as simple tools for your teams, apply them to your own practices and become the type of leader that is in control of his/her stress levels.
If you follow these stress busting techniques, your team will follow suit and you’ll have an organisation that’s free from avoidable headaches.
11. Ask for Feedback
Last, but definitely not least, you need to start asking your teams for feedback if you aren’t already. All great leaders listen and respond to their teams and you shouldn’t be any different.
Keep on top of your employees’ stress levels with regular feedback and from the information that you gather, you’ll be able to tailor your approach and find the perfect stress busting techniques for each of your employees.
At the end of the day, stress doesn’t feel good and you don’t want to create an environment where your employees don’t feel good coming into work. This is the basis of a demotivated, unsuccessful team.