Stress at work can come from several different sources and cause a wide range of problems, from interpersonal conflicts with coworkers to increased risk of serious illness and heart disease. It is the leading cause of disease in the workplace. Stress in the workplace can lead to serious health issues like anxiety, depression, heart attacks, arthritis, and even death — not to mention causing more immediately life-changing events like chronic illness and relationship breakdowns.
For small business owners, it’s especially important to keep stress under control in order to make smart decisions, retain top talent, and prevent discrimination at the workplace. Try these nine tips for managing stress at work if you run your own company!
TIP 1: Break Away From Your Desk
If you work at a desk all day, try to get up and move around every hour or so. It’s tempting to park it at your desk and plow through as much work as possible, but research shows that productivity takes a nosedive when you work from home. The human body wasn’t made to sit still that long, and prolonged sitting can actually cause health problems. If you find yourself stuck at your desk (which is inevitable), walk over to another cubicle, chat with a coworker, go grab some coffee… do something! To alleviate stress and stay energized, get up and walk around every 20-30 minutes. You’ll keep your mind fresh, burn off stress hormones that build up while sitting, and make it easier to fall asleep after work.
TIP 2: Educate all workers about discrimination
If your business has just a few employees, it’s important to educate them about discrimination at workplace. Discrimination at workplace is an unfortunate reality that many small business owners are forced to deal with. It’s not only you who is responsible for making sure they aren’t violating anti-discrimination laws; your workers also have a responsibility to uphold these policies. To do so, train all workers on what behavior constitutes discrimination and then give them ongoing training as needed.
In addition to getting all your employees properly trained about employment law, find out what specific policies your company should have in place. Though every small business is different, make sure you address any discrimination that may occur as it could lead to lawsuits and fines—not to mention hurt feelings and worse morale.
TIP 3: Promote Financial Wellness
Your employees aren’t your property—they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, just like you would want them to treat you. Make it clear that discrimination of any kind is not acceptable at your company. Additionally, if you can provide a few financial resources like real pay stubs or calculators that help employees understand what a living wage actually looks like, your company will likely stand out from its competition.
According to studies conducted by California Polytechnic State University, workers who are paid less than their peers are more likely to quit their jobs (and they’re often unhappy while they’re there). Employees also tend to quit when they feel as though they don’t have an equal opportunity at promotions. To prevent these issues from happening in your office, take steps toward creating a more financially sound environment for all of your employees.
When you feel too stressed at work, take out your real paystubs and add up all of your expenses. This can help you realize that there is a lot more to life than just work. Focus on what matters: whether it’s your kids, family or health—think about how it feels to live well when you’re tired or pressured by others. When we make time for what matters most, our stress level will drop like a hot stone.
TIP 4: Finding an Office with Sustainable Pest Control
Despite their name, pesticides can have serious effects on both people and animals. Look for an office space that uses natural pest control methods to avoid these harmful chemicals. This will not only help you feel better, but it will also attract more customers and clients to your business by showing that you care about both your employees and your customers’ health.
TIP 5: Mindfulness Training
Making mindfulness a part of your daily routine is an excellent way to combat workplace stress, and also boost your company’s productivity. Try keeping a real pay stub that shows what you really earn (after taxes and deductions) next to your desk as a constant reminder that, yes, there is money coming in but life still goes on if you don’t get it all. Dealing with economic hardship is stressful enough; adding additional mental burdens from worries over paying bills will only make matters worse.
TIP 6: Keep Physical Activity Part of Your Workday
There’s a lot of research showing how important exercise is to reducing stress and improving employee productivity. A short walk around your office building or campus can go a long way toward relieving workday stress. (For those with more time at lunch, you could always go running.) Also make sure your employees are offered real pay stubs. Employees who knew what they earned were less likely to be stressed about their finances than those who didn’t know.
TIP 7: Practice Active Listening
The first step to stress management is practicing active listening. This means being genuinely interested in other people’s perspectives, emotions, and experiences. If you understand where they’re coming from, it becomes easier to communicate more effectively and solve problems together. One way to practice active listening is by asking questions instead of constantly formulating your own responses.
TIP 8: Limit Meetings To One Hour
In a traditional office setting, meetings can eat up a lot of time. The number one issue with meetings is that they often have no set end time, so people run over and start adding extra items onto the agenda. If you run your own business, you’re probably even more aware of how precious each minute really is. The solution? Set an end time and stick to it! Try 60 minutes—that’s all you get before moving on to other tasks.