Stress is normal. Each of us experiences stress related to work, family, routine tasks, our future, and so on indefinitely. These events can cause fear, anxiety, panic, and temporary changes in workplace dynamics. It is important to understand how these stressful events can affect you, your colleagues, and the general workplace environment so that you can cope in times of crisis. Whatever your job requires, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the harmful effects of stress, improve job satisfaction, and maintain your well-being at work and beyond. Let’s dive right in.
- What reactions to expect from yourself and colleagues in stressful situations
- How to notice and distinguish signs of stress in the workplace?
- The influence of stress on the dynamics of the workplace
- Infographic: BREAK THE BAD HABITS
- What affects the ability of teams to deal with stress in the work environment?
- How managers or employers can reduce stress in the workplace
- Tips for everyone: How to build resilience to deal with stressful situations in the working environment?
- The effect of stress management on workplace dynamics
What reactions to expect from yourself and colleagues in stressful situations
People react in different ways depending on their life experience and the environment in which they live. In stressful situations, some of us turn to our cultural and ethnic values for comfort and support. They affect the way we perceive and interpret the meaning and impact of different situations. Some events and problems would cause stress to you, and others – to your teammates. Some situations affect almost everyone and they are the ones you most want to prevent:
- Feeling out of control
- Lack of direction and/or purpose
- Guilt for delay or non-compliance
- Excessive responsibilities
- High expectations of yourself
- Fear of dismissal
- Extra work due to staff reductions
- Working under pressure without a sense of satisfaction
- The pressure to work at optimal levels all the time
- Lack of control over how you do your job
Try to be patient, open, and compassionate to colleagues in such circumstances. It is completely natural to experience:
- Emotional shock
- Anxiety and worries
- Loss of control, trust, confidence, purpose
- Anger and pain
How to notice and distinguish signs of stress in the workplace?
Despite the differences in the signs of stress and anxiety, there are the following common signs:
- Sudden mood swings
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Extremely bad temper and lack of patience
- Excessive anxiety and insecurity
- Physical signs, such as headache, stomach pain; tension in the neck; sleep or appetite problems
- Constant sweating (cold sweat) and low body temperature
- Apathy, loss of interest in work
- Concentration problem
- Social withdrawal
- Abuse of harmful substances (alcohol, drugs, nicotine)
The influence of stress on the dynamics of the workplace
We can distinguish 2 doses of stress – moderate and excessive. A moderate dose of stress can stimulate you and your team to stay focused, energetic, and able to meet new challenges in the workplace. It keeps you excited when you submit a completed project or present results to management. It is your instinct that helps you prevent accidents and survive. The excessive stress dose is used too often in the workplace and our daily lives become way too emotional. Long working hours, meeting short deadlines, and managing ever-increasing responsibilities make the team feel anxious, exhausted, and overwhelmed. In this situation, the stress dose exceeds your ability to cope and begins to cause damage to your mind and body. You are not powerless in this difficult situation. If stress is hurting your work dynamics, health, or personal life, it’s time to take action. With the tips in this article you will find the key to stress management:
Determining the right dose of stress that will give you the energy, ambition, and enthusiasm to achieve higher results with satisfaction.
Tip 1: Beat stress in the workplace by reaching out
In difficult times and situations, a person tends to blame himself for being too weak and unable to cope. There are cases when managers are not aware of the normal progression of changes and stressful situations and expect employees to return to overall productivity immediately. Sometimes the best stress reducer is just sharing the anxiety with someone. This can be an extremely effective way to relax your mind and regain a sense of calm. The other person should not act as a therapist, but simply be a good listener. This leads us to demonstrate to our team that each member can turn to you and colleagues for support. Such a supportive environment during work can eliminate the negative effects of stress on workplace dynamics.
Tip 2: Don’t compromise on sleep quality
Lack of sleep is the cause of dozens of unhealthy effects on our bodies and one of them is higher stress levels. This affects your productivity during the day, creativity, problem-solving skills, and ability to focus. The more rested each member of the team, the more he will be able to cope with today’s challenges. A few seemingly easy steps will improve the quality of your sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends
- Be mindful of what you eat and drink during the day
- Change the room you sleep in if something bothers/depresses you
- Strive to sleep 6-8 hours a night
- Turn off the screens an hour before bed or reduce their brightness to a maximum. The light emitted by TVs, tablets, smartphones, and computers suppress the production of melatonin in the body and can seriously disrupt sleep.
- Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bed. Focus on quiet, soothing activities, such as reading or listening to light music.
Tip 3: Prioritize and optimally organize the working day
When stress threatens workplace dynamics, there are simple, practical steps you can take to regain control.
Time management tips to reduce stress at work
Make a schedule to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary activities, daily responsibilities and rest. Go to work early in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantic haste and lightness in your day. If someone on the team often arrives at the last minute or is late, advise them to set their alarm for an earlier departure so that they have more time. Plan regular vacations. Make sure you take short breaks throughout the day to take a walk, talk to each other, or practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation time can be the perfect time to spend some time with fun activities with the team. One of the ways you can relax with the team is with the Personal Questions deck. You will learn something new about each other, you will laugh at the funny story of a colleague and you will work more easily on projects thanks to the knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. Set healthy boundaries. You may not assume this, but many of us feel compelled to be available 24 hours a day or obligated to check smartphones for work-related messages and updates. Talk to the team and help them shake off that constant sense of responsibility. Let everyone determine a period in which they do not work and do not think about work. This should become his recharge time. To achieve the previous goal, you should not make too many commitments in one day, week, and month. Avoid planning too much at once. Remove tasks that are not needed, or delegate them.
How to manage your tasks to reduce stress at work
Prioritize tasks correctly. Complete the tasks with the highest priority first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, finish it early. The rest of your day will be more enjoyable as a result. Some of the methods we recommend you study are:
- How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Your Advantage
- Parkinson’s Law: The Secret to Project Management Success
Split large projects into small steps. This approach is similar to the 2-minute rule. If a task cannot be completed in a maximum of 2 minutes, find a way to divide it into smaller ones of similar size. Learn to delegate properly because you don’t have to deal with everything yourself. Get rid of the urge to control every step and be willing to compromise. 80% of the results are achieved with 20% of the work. Not everyone can do things with the same quality as you, but you don’t always need 100% efficiency to achieve 80% of everything.
Infographic: BREAK THE BAD HABITS
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What affects the ability of teams to deal with stress in the work environment?
During each change, colleagues and teams feel insecure and may feel confused. Based on these 2 things you can predict some potential problems: Everyone has a different approach to change. Some have difficulty accepting and adapting to the new environment, while others draw new strength from the changes and see them as great opportunities. The former prefers the status quo and the latter initiates change. Some people need to share their hardships, while others suffer silently. Some find new strength in change, while others sabotage it and undermine the team’s efforts to move forward. Pay attention to both types of people in the company.
How managers or employers can reduce stress in the workplace
As a manager, manager, or employer, you can help the workplace dynamics by being a positive role model. If you can stay calm in stressful situations, it will be much easier for employees to follow your example. In most cases, you will be the initiator of activities to improve workplace dynamics. One of them is communicating with the team. Talk to them about the specific factors that make their work stressful. Some small changes can lead to great results. Sharing information with employees can also reduce uncertainty about their work and the future, so it’s important to communicate with each other. Listening carefully to a colleague when you are together will make him feel heard and understood. This can have a positive effect on both of you, even if you are not able to change the situation. In this spirit, enable employees to participate in decisions that affect their work. A good example is their awareness of office policy. If they are involved in the process, they will be more involved. When assigning responsibilities, clarify your expectations. Clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and goals of each employee and make sure that your actions are fair and consistent with organizational values. Last but not least, upon successful completion of tasks and projects, you can offer rewards and incentives. Sincere praise for the achievements of a colleague or the whole team can be enough to positively affect their overall performance. Have you ever used such an approach to motivate your teammates?
Tips for everyone: How to build resilience to deal with stressful situations in the working environment?
Promoting personal and team strength will help speed recovery from crises, financial downturns, and even global cataclysms. Sustainability is the ability to effectively cope, recover, adapt, and even strengthen from challenging life situations. The factors related to it are:
- The ability to make realistic plans and take steps to implement them.
- Positive/optimistic view of yourself and your teammates and confidence in personal and collective strengths and abilities.
- Communication and problem-solving skills.
- Ability to manage strong feelings, emotions, and impulses.
There are dozens of ways to build resilience in you and your teammates. One of the most important is to keep in touch with each other and with your families. It is important to be close to relatives, friends, and people with whom you spend a long time. Sometimes you can’t be together physically, but in those moments you resort to phone calls, emails, or letters. For a strong connection with the team, the activities and time spent with colleagues will help you strengthen the team spirit and synchronize your work for maximum productivity. An example of such a game is the expression of inner feelings and associations with the help of the deck Illustrations. Each colleague draws a card and has to answer 5 questions related to it, which reveal his creativity and stimulate the imagination. TIP: Whether you are conducting a teambuilding session with the whole group or divided into smaller groups, prefer to arrange in a circle. This will contribute to more openness and trust. Encourage colleagues to maintain a positive attitude and optimism in the office. As banal as it sounds, focuses on the good things in your life, instead of worrying about things you may not be able to control. The easiest way to achieve this peace of mind is to set a timer of 30-60-90 minutes and concentrate on your tasks. Remember that there will always be work, but that does not mean sleeping in the office! This is an occasion to make healthy choices inevitable. Help your teammates by offering them to replace the harmful food they consume with fruit or coffee. Maybe there is an opportunity to make such a buffet in the company? To relieve stress and fatigue, go for a walk around the office building or take a two-minute walk as a break. In these moments, the efforts and conscious approach to the emotional well-being of colleagues are most important.
The effect of stress management on workplace dynamics
People develop a deep attachment to the work team, organizational structures, personal responsibilities, and ways of doing the job. When any of these things change, whether by personal choice or through an organizational process, a transition period occurs. During this transition, your people may feel abandoned, confused, and unwilling to start moving and integrating the new. Understanding these components of stress, the situations that cause it, and employee reactions can help you support both yourself and your staff to effectively manage stress and change.