8 Ways to Reduce Job Stress and Boost Workplace Productivity
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health defines job stress as the reaction that happens when our work does meet our needs and match our skills.
This reaction can be either physical, emotional, or both.
Based on some studies, women, lower-skilled job workers, and Millennial and Gen Z employees are the ones who are most likely to experience this stress.
Before the pandemic, 94% of employees had already claimed that they were suffering from job stress.
After the traumatic year of 2020, many people are now at their limits.
As unpleasant as it is, it seems that a workplace isn’t complete without stress.
It’s always present, no matter what employers and employees do.
A survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention even learned that 29% of Americans attribute their stress to their work.
Around half of them are even workaholics who make themselves available to their employers 24/7.
The factors that cause stress can be divided into two categories – physical and psychosocial.
Physical factors are basically everything that comprises the work environment.
They include a noisy office with no privacy, proper temperature control, lighting, and efficient facilities.
On the other hand, psychosocial factors cover the company’s managerial style, career concerns, workload issues, dissatisfaction with compensation, and poor relationships among employees.
How Do We Know We’re Experiencing Work-Related Stress?
Rudeness Toward Others
Stress causes us to feel overwhelmed and irritable over almost everything – including minor stuff.
As a result, we may end up snapping at others whether these are our colleagues, superiors, or people we live with at home.
Because of what we’re feeling, we can't bring ourselves to think about what they will feel.
We just want to let our frustrations out.
Thinking of Work 24/7
When we’re stressed with work, it’s like all our tasks (both finished and unfinished) are out to haunt us.
They plague our mind even when we’re off the clock.
It’s also the only thing we can talk about with friends or family.
We may be ranting about our colleagues or worrying about our next project because we can’t seem to figure out how to start it.
Loss of Focus
Stress fills our mind while we’re working.
We spend most of our time trying to figure out what caused it.
Because of this, we can’t start or continue our tasks.
We are too distracted and, as a result, we are prone to forgetting things and we have a hard time understanding when someone is explaining what we’re supposed to do.
Stress makes us exhausted, but it doesn’t mean that it can make us sleep soundly at night.
In fact, it makes us more restless to the point that we may experience insomnia.
In addition, even if we get to sleep, chances are our dreams will be filled with work-related things like the spreadsheet that we have to complete or the report we have to present to our team.
The tension we have in our mind due to stress will make itself known physically.
We may find ourselves feeling stiffness and pain in different parts of our body.
Our brain considers stress as a threat.
As a result, our nervous system responds against it by releasing different hormones that can speed up our heartbeat, inhibit our blood flow, slow our digestion, and tense up our muscles.
How Does Stress Affect Productivity?
Stress has a direct impact on productivity.
It causes a lot of problems that can greatly affect our output and quality of work.
Though there are times that it can help us push ourselves to break our limits, most of the time stress just breaks us down.
Consequently, if we can’t work at our best, our individual performance isn’t all that’s affected – the teams we work with and the company as whole are also negatively impacted.
Here are some of the common issues that arise due to job stress:
Time Management Issues
Because we’re too distracted when we’re stressed, we’re likely to fail to start our tasks on time.
We also panic and get frustrated because we believe that we don’t have enough time.
To not miss our deadlines, we work overtime or bring our work home.
Poor Quality of Work
Stress clogs our minds, hinders us from coming up with new ideas and leads to mistakes.
It also drains our energy physically and emotionally.
It affects our teamwork, too.
As a result, we can only deliver subpar outcomes that lack planning and creativity.
When we’re not at our best, we can’t perform well or work at all.
We may use up all our sick leave trying to recover.
However, when we’re out of the office, work will just pile up and make us even more stressed.
Stress causes exhaustion, fatigue, and sleep problems.
It will be so hard for us to get some rest.
We may stay up really late unwillingly.
This will result in us oversleeping and struggling to wake up for work, hence affecting our punctuality.
High Staff Turnover
Stressed employees are restless.
Once they can’t handle the work any more, they will look for another job.
Losing staff members one after another costs a lot of money because the company has to hire and train new people.
How to Reduce Job Stress and Improve Workplace Productivity?
It would be great if we could eliminate stress from our workplace, but that’s impossible.
Stress is everywhere, even when you’re out of your office.
You can experience it at home or on the streets.
Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate and manage it.
Start Your Day Right
When you wake up in the morning, focus on yourself first.
Don’t think about work yet.
Exercise to get rid of stressful thoughts and enhance your mood.
Prepare yourself a delicious breakfast, too.
Make sure it’s healthy though.
Consume food with carbs, fiber, and protein to improve your focus and concentration.
You can also add some superfoods like dark chocolate.
Avoid sugary and fatty foods as these can make you feel lethargic.
Plan Your Day Ahead
Instead of going through your social media that may distract you from sleeping, create a to-do list to prepare you for the next day.
This stops you from overloading yourself with work.
Seek help from professional Therapists
Prioritize 2-3 tasks each week.
Choose what you think is the most important and can help you make the most progress.
In addition, schedule the most demanding jobs when you are at your most productive and, no matter what you do, don’t multitask!
Change Your Mindset
Your mind is very powerful, but you can still control it.
You can wield it to stop thinking negatively and focus on positive things by expressing gratitude and appreciating the people around you.
Don’t fall into the perfectionism trap.
Learn from your mistakes and use your failures to grow.
In addition, let go of the things you can’t control and focus on what you can.
Get Rid of Distractions
There are so many things going on around us.
Not all of them can be helpful, so identify the activities that hinder you from doing your work.
In this day and age, the common culprits of distraction are social media and email.
So, deactivate your phone and email notifications.
If you really have a very important task, you can even turn off your phone.
Figure out when phone calls are most likely to disturb you and schedule a specific time to make yourself available for direct communications.
Learn to Relax
Everyone deserves a break.
If you work for 8 hours straight, chances are you’re going to get stressed.
So, blow off some steam.
Get up from your workstation and take a walk.
Play appropriate music to stop yourself from thinking and overanalyzing.
But the ultimate form of relaxation is sleep.
Make it a habit to get 7-9 hours a night and don’t sleep in during the weekends to avoid throwing off your body clock.
Be clear on requirements
Job responsibilities, expectations, and goals can be very vague sometimes and that’s stressful.
Not having a clear direction is frustrating.
So, don’t hesitate to talk to your superiors to clarify these things.
Your managers should be able to provide realistic objectives.
When you have set goals, you can use them to gauge which tasks should be prioritized.
Create positive relationships
Poor relationships among employees contribute to stress.
So, avoid conflicts by stepping away from gossip and avoid discussing sensitive topics like politics and religion.
Also, keep your distance from people who can’t seem to work well with others.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t interact with your colleagues.
You still have to engage and form friendships as this can help in building teamwork.
Delegate your tasks
If you look at your to-do list, chances are you have tasks that you don’t have to do by yourself.
These can be small jobs, projects that you can easily teach other people, or work that you’re not good at.
When you get rid of these, you can focus on the work that really matters.
Just make sure to pick the people who have the required skills to accomplish them.
Also, don’t micromanage.
Instead, trust your colleagues.
There are many other ways to manage stress and stop it from affecting your productivity.
However, employees can’t do this on their own.
Employers should also help their staff avoid stress.
They can provide better facilities in the office, improve their support system, and make changes to existing work arrangements.
Whatever it is, it’s a collaborative effort where both parties should help each other.
After all, business organizations with happy and productive employees are the ones that will enjoy the most success in the long run.
November 7, 2023
November 7, 2023