Small-business owners experience stress every day. It may be about meeting payroll or landing that next big customer. What you may not realize is that many of your employees are stressed too. The American Psychological Association recently released a study that found 36 percent of employees experience stress daily.
While some stress at the job may be good, too much clearly hurts employee productivity, resulting in days off from work due to depression, heart disease, insomnia and muscle pain.
Here are 10 things that are stressing your employees and how to fix them:
1. Their paychecks. Since many people live paycheck to paycheck and don't have a cushion in case of layoff, many employees worry if they'll be paid on time. How to fix it: Educate your employees quarterly on the financial stability of the company and what they can expect in the coming month. There should never be surprises for employees when it comes to their paychecks.
2. Their jobs. Do they have a future at the company? Will they be promoted and get a raise? Or will they be laid off at the first downturn? It's difficult, especially for older employees, to get another job during times of high unemployment. How to fix it: Review employee job performance and career expectations informally on a quarterly basis. Again, there should be no surprises.
3. What the boss thinks. The manager comes into the office one day in a bad mood and every employee wonders if he or she is the cause. This can be especially worrisome if the manager always favors certain employees over others. How to fix it: As a business owner, you need to assure employees that issues outside the office aren't a reflection on them. Also, don't choose favorites—play fair with all your employees.
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4. Fulfilling unrealistic expectations. Many employees want to work hard, but worry about their lack of control over how and when the work is performed. They feel pressure from what they believe are unrealistic expectations. How to fix it: The manager needs to set objectives for the employee, but then let the employee control the manner in which they are achieved. (In other words, stop micromanaging.)
5. Their personal lives. Employees are worried about their families, what others think and what people are saying about them in social media updates. How to fix it: As long as work is getting done, don’t monitor infrequent use of cell phones and social media at work. Employees will "sneak a peek" anyway.
6. Coworker drama. All employees aren't going to get along. And some workers believe others are holding them back from getting the job done. How to fix it: Pay special attention to how the team works together, not just how employees perform as individuals. Identify team leaders who can foster teamwork.
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7. They don’t like their physical environment. They have no private space at work. This is becoming increasingly common for open workspace offices. How to fix it: While it may not always be possible or desirable to give every employee a private workspace, there should be some location at work (like a locker) that only that employee can access.
8. Long commutes. Some employees come to work already stressed because of traffic or other commuting hassles. How to fix it: If possible, hire people who live closer to work. For people who don't, try adjusting their schedules so they're not commuting during rush hour. You can also test to see if working at home, at least part time, would be effective.
9. Their health (or their high insurance deductibles). Employees worry about their weight, appearance and other health issues, as well as the cost of healthcare. How to fix it: Let employees choose their level of insurance coverage based on what they need and the cost they can afford. Every owner should try to participate in paying for a portion of employees' healthcare as part of their overall compensation package. (Also, offering a gym perk could go far to help employees feel better and boost their productivity.)
10. Long meetings. Employees think that many meetings are either too long or just pointless. During these meetings, they keep thinking about all the other work they need to get done, and worry about when they're going to do it. How to fix it: Set a time limit to every meeting and always adhere to an agenda that's set upfront. Having attendees stand during meetings will also shorten their length.
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