Workplace Stress

Four Unconventional Things that May be Stressing out Employees

Workplace stress is a normal and healthy thing to experience, but what happens when too much stress is affecting your business negatively? It has been estimated that $300 billion in the U.S. and $16 billion in Canada is lost per year by companies due to stress. So how do you avoid this stress epidemic? Take a look at some of these common but unconventional stressors that may be stressing your workers out, and some recommendations on how to avoid them.

1. Lack of Quality Feedback
The amount of, and quality of the feedback one is providing their employees is something all leaders should be keeping track of. If you are giving more criticism to your employees than positive compliments, job satisfaction will lower and stress levels will heighten. An effective form of feedback that is directly linked to high levels of job performance and job satisfaction is called “leader reward behaviour.” This reward behaviour includes giving employees compliments, tangible benefits, and deserved special treatment. Making sure the rewards you are providing are clearly linked to the performance of the individual is the key to reaping the benefits of this type of feedback. Rewarding good performance is one of the easiest and most effective ways to show employees what is expected of them and keep their stress levels down.

2. What They Hear You Say About Other Employees
Being a volunteer at MUN orientation for almost a year now, one thing that is always stressed is to never talk negatively or make fun of new students in front of other new students. A situation or simple question you may have encountered that may be funny to you may be embarrassing to the other person involved. This lesson can be translated directly to workplace behaviour. We all do it but it is important to note that it can be potentially damaging to your company. When you speak negatively about employees to other colleagues, trust between you and your employee is then damaged; they will think “If you can talk negatively about them, you can talk negatively about me.” This may be causing your employees stress levels to be drastically higher. If they make a simple mistake, they now have a fear of being talked about or made fun of as well. It is important to note that it is also your responsibility as a leader to monitor what your workers are saying about other employees too, and any negative talk or workplace bullying should be addressed immediately.

3. Role Ambiguity/Conflict
When workers are experiencing role ambiguity and role conflict, stress levels can be driven through the roof. Role ambiguity happens when the expectations, goals, or the strategy to achieve these expectations or deliverables are unclear. It is important to clearly outline the goals and expectations of a certain job, and while it may be the individual’s responsibility to achieve them, providing them with the opportunity for support, guidance, and the ability to ask questions is your job as a leader. When there are seemingly no supports or strategy to achieve outcomes, this can cause your workers a considerable amount of stress. Role conflict is a little different but equally harmful. Role conflict happens when an employee is experiencing two or more conflicting expectations. A common cause of this is when two or more leaders in an organization have conflicting expectations from an employee. To avoid this, keep an open communication between you and your fellow leaders. Listen to your employees and address a fellow leader directly when you are told you are giving conflicting messages.

4. Lack of Consideration
How concerned are you about your employees’ well-being? How effectively are you portraying this concern? Consideration is defined as “the extent a leader is approachable and shows personal concern and respect for employees.” Making an effort to make sure your employees trust you and feel open to speaking to you about their opinions is crucial to their level of stress; if issues do arise, you want your employees to feel comfortable coming to you. Regularly checking in with your employees, asking if they are okay when they seem stressed, and openly communicating that they can come to you about anything, are just some methods to being seen as a considerate leader.

Source: Organizational Behaviour: Understanding and Managing Life at Work by Gary Johns and Alan M. Saks

By: Jenny Mallard | Venture Support Intern