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5 ways to de-stress your staff

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We all lead somewhat stressful lives, but apparently the people who work in these 10 professions experience the highest levels of stress worldwide.

It can be hard to know what to do when you realise an employee is stressed and burnt out, but hopefully these tips will give you a few pointers to help relive their anxiety about work.

1. Recognise when you overwork staff

The public relations profession came in at number six on the list of the most stressful jobs this year – a fair way down from its number two spot a few years ago – but there’s no doubt it’s a high-intensity job.

Some may argue the pressure is too much. Last year, there were multiple reports of young PR and creative professionals tragically passing away, apparently following extremely long hours at their computers.

HOW: Notice the warning signs of burnout, which include a change in attitude, taking more MCs and lower quality of work. Sit down with your employee and find out how you can help them cope better in the office.

2. Ensure they have somewhere to progress to

It’s a slightly less obvious stress to remain in the same position for too long and on the same pay, but staff who feel they’re not going anywhere in your company will be affected by a negative attitude towards work.

HOW: Have solid career progression plans for staff. Make sure they understand where they could potentially get to, and the steps needed – and what you expect from them – in order to get there.

3. Encourage them to get plenty of rest, holidays

It can be difficult for some employees to strike a balance between work and their life outside of work, especially if a work culture which encourages plenty of rest is something they’re not used to. Make sure they hear you when you say “go home” or “take a holiday”. Sleep and holiday-deprived employees are bad for business.

HOW: If you don’t already, or can’t, offer flexible working arrangements, try to come up with other ways you can give your employees a break. Some offices mandate a certain home time on certain days, while others allow ad hoc ‘mental health’ leave days for staff to catch up on sleep.

4. Make sure they talk to someone

Whether it’s you in HR or one of your team, or someone else entirely, make sure you are able to hear their issues and what they’re having trouble with.

Learn the reasons behind their increased stress levels. Is it work-related or something at home? Are they worried about not hitting their targets? Are they being bullied by someone in the office?

HOW: If you don’t already, try to have regular one-on-one sessions with key staff members to ensure you have your finger on the pulse of any issues in your office. Then, you can start to do something about it.

5. Don’t heap work onto returning staff

If you’ve been managing an employee on the brink of burnout, make sure you ease him or her back into the workplace after they’ve taken a break or a few days off. Lumping piles of work on their desk is only going to reignite the same anxiety they were feeling before.

HOW: A good break should have done wonders for them, but give them a couple of days to settle back into a routine. Catch up with them regularly to see how they’re getting on, and make sure you keep those lines of communication wide open to avoid a relapse.

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Rebecca Lewis
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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