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Work related stress affects all employees at some point in their careers and can negatively impact their health, and consequently the organisation.

There are a host of factors that induce workplace stress; these include heavy workloads, increased work hours and job responsibilities, inadequate remuneration, lack of recognition, uncertain career advancement plans, aggressive management styles and abrasive behaviour.

If left unaddressed, workplace stress can lead to multiple problems for the organisation including a high turnover rate, absenteeism and lower productivity.

Here are several techniques that organisations may use to help their employees de-stress, and consequently reduce the company’s turnover rate and boost its productivity.

  • Open communication lines between employees and management. Organisations need to ensure that positive relationships are maintained between line managers and their co-workers. This can help reduce employees’ uncertainty regarding career advancement and future prospects. Furthermore, HR departments should take complaints from employees about their supervisors seriously.
  • Conduct employee surveys. These can help identify the major stress triggers; employees should be asked what their primary stressors are, as well as for suggestions on how stress levels can be reduced.
  • Reward employees. Organisations should have well defined recognition practices in place that demonstrate appreciation for their employees’ work. These can be monetary (e.g. quarterly bonuses or merit raises) and/or non-monetary rewards (e.g. performance of the month awards and certificates of appreciation).
  • Stress management workshops. Periodic workshops should be held to educate employees about how to recognise and manage the psychological, physical and emotional effects of stress. Not only will these workshops help employees de-stress, they will also help them realise that the organisation cares about their wellbeing.
  • Set up a gym. Research indicates that physical activity can significantly lower stress levels and increase productivity. Onsite gym facilities, with aerobics and yoga classes, indoor sports and games can provide a suitable outlet for employees while building stamina and boosting energy levels.

– Mehreen Ahmed
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. mehreen.ah@gmail.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 8, 2013.