Survey: Workplace Stress Can Rack Employee Focus

Stress in the workplace can take a toll on employee engagement and productivit

Stress in the workplace can take a toll on employee engagement and productivity. While high unemployment and slow wage growth may contribute to stress levels, new research underscores the importance of implementing HR strategies that tackle stress outright.

According to a report released Tuesday by ComPsych, more than half of surveyed employees - 56.3 percent - say workplace stress makes it difficult to focus on tasks. Twenty-one percent of respondents claim it causes errors or missed deadlines, and slightly more than 15 percent say it makes it difficult to get along with coworkers and managers.

"Unchecked stress can result in a number of productivity-sapping outcomes, from diminished work quality to absenteeism to coworker clashes,” said Dr. Richard Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. "Organizations looking to compete in a volatile marketplace are proactively addressing stress - this can enhance employee well-being and therefore engagement."

An improving job market may cut back on stress levels and boost employee satisfaction, but it may also take a toll on staff retention levels. But whatever sort of management strategies companies adopt, stress levels should be addressed directly.

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These are all great comments to workplace stress. Having been on both sides of the coin, I would like to add that there are things that employees themselves can do to minimize individual stress levels al well: 1) Take a break from the work by yourself. By this I mean, walk away from your work area and get a breath of fresh air. This can help to clear the mind, regain focus and get back on track. 2) Some therapeutic exercises at the desk--stand up and stretch, rotate the wrists, slump over in the chair to expand the back muscles. 3) Be careful about bringing personal stress into the workplace as it can affect the productivity and focus. By the same token, managers should be sensitive to staff members who might be having such stress and be ready to point the staff memeber to HR or EAP for personal needs.

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Always an easy step to just ask the team how you - the leader - are adding to the workplace stress. Sometimes we are blind to the small actions that can change the environment quickly and to maximum benefit to all.

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Interesting survey. It seems to be common knowledge that a stressful work environment negatively impacts productivity yet there is never much attention to actively monitoring and managing the quality of the work environment. Yes, there is a balance and work "is work", but I would offer the following as best practices:

1. Know the work environment. You need to be "close enough" to it to manage it.
2. Know the dynamics among your employees on some level. Certain employees cause stress among co-workers and negatively impact the work environment and there are those who have a postive impact.
3. Identify those in your work environment who are mediators in workplace relationships and engage and them and ask how you can help
4. Recognize accomplishments even if they are not always huge in your eyes
5. Promote a team environment and the enforce the benefits to being a good team player both within and across departments
6. Actively manage your managers. They are close to the playing field and measure them on what type of environment they provide for their teams.
7. All work and absolutely no fun does not work over the long haul. Little things such as early day,a lunch brought in or something that breaks up the routine impact productivity.

Of course, this advice advice is much easier in theory then in practice. What do you do to manage and maintain the quality of the work environment at your company?

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