Build resilient work teams to optimise performance
Employees are key to business success. When workload demands increase, employees can become stressed, impacting business results. Happier, healthier, more resilient employees are good for business.
Workplace stress is not new, yet the increasing cost of its impact is. However, there are two sides to the stress story: companies that accept and absorb the impact of stress on their organisation and those that take action.
You have likely heard of the “fight or flight” stress response. This is your body’s way of protecting you. When you repeatedly experience the fight or flight stress response in your daily life, it can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, speed up the ageing process and leave you vulnerable to a host of mental and emotional problems.
Tight deadlines, excessive workloads, noisy environments, constant interruptions, unrealistic expectations – all of these things can cause stress within the workplace.
Work-related stress is a growing problem around the world that affects not only the health and well-being of employees, but also the performance of organisations. A commercially viable business balances its way to enhance performance and reduce costs. Stress in the workplace adds to the cost of business and astute business owners are looking for ways to reduce the amount of time team members are away from work especially when it is a direct result of stress in the workplace.
Australian workplace health and safety (WH&S) legislation requires workplaces to be, as far as is reasonably practicable, physically and mentally safe and healthy for all employees. This means steps must be taken to ensure that the working environment does not harm mental health or worsen an existing condition. This legislation acknowledges that employees have a responsibility for their own health and safety as well.
Many organisations and businesses have a workplace health and wellbeing manager, program or even a department in place as part of their commitment to health and safety of their employees. They will ideally be equipped with some of the many techniques available to help support employees with building stress resilience. For those that don’t, there are so many simple actions that can be taken to combat stress in the workplace.
Managers play a critical role in creating a healthy workplace. This is through the people they directly supervise, and as a leader influencing others within their business. The team members, in particular, will look to their manager for leadership, guidance and support. Whether or not your workplace currently sees health and wellbeing as a priority, there are many things you can do as a manager to contribute to avoiding unnecessary stress and help to build resilient teams by following some simple practices and implementing some positive workplace wellness initiatives.
Lead by Example
In order to reduce stress in the workplace, it’s important that managers lead by example. As a leader of a team it’s critical to be emotionally intelligent to avoid negativity, anger or stress rubbing off onto your employees.
Building your own resilience, mindfulness and demonstrating that your wellness is important to you, signals loudly to others that their wellness is also important.
Introduce Workplace Wellness Initiatives
Exercise, nutrition, sleep and our work environment are extremely important when it comes to combating workplace related stress.
The wellness initiative may be small, such as minor redesign and décor of workspaces to reduce stress and support mindful relationships and communication, or more nutritious food options available at the canteen or nearby cafes.
Alternatively, it may involve integrating strategies, tools and techniques to build resilience and mindfulness, into the employee induction and training program. Running group-wide challenges related to stress management and overall wellness is also a good way to help employees feel like their wellness is truly valued by the company.
Communicate with employees
Open communication is critical in leadership; keeping employees up to date regarding changes, expectations and their own performance not only keeps them on track but also reduces feelings of stress and anxiety – after all there is nothing worse than being kept in the dark. As a manager be sure to keep your team abreast of the latest developments and departmental changes. What’s more, open communication is a two way street and the more you converse with your employees, the more likely they are to share concerns, ideas and thoughts making for much stronger working relationships and a healthier overall company culture that provides a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
Other simple stress management and reduction techniques can be implemented such as:
- Relaxation methods, stretching and exercise – Does your workplace offer yoga, Tai-Chi, meditation or any other kind of relaxation method? Some workplaces subsidise employee exercise programs, others run a weekly corporate yoga class. The key is to find what works for your team by asking them and listening to what they have to say.
- Taking breaks – Are those in your workplace encouraged to take breaks or do they feel they will chastised if they do? Giving a person time to regroup and recalibrate throughout the day will improve their capacity to cope and perform better.
- Mange workloads – Are staff left to their own devices when they feel swamped with work or do you have systems and checks in place to help them manage their workloads? When we are under pressure to meet deadlines, simple strategies like sequencing tasks in order of priority can make the workload feel more manageable. The key is to know that they can trust that when they do reach out for help they will be heard and supported.
There are so many ways to combat stress in the workplace. These are just some of the methods we discuss in the nationally recognised Diploma of Wellness (workplaces). Taking the time to understand how different members of your team respond to stress, helping your team to develop coping strategies, and eliminating the variables that cause undue stress will help you to build a resilience work team. A more resilient work team will be a healthier and higher-performing work team, which – when sustained – will ultimately improve the bottom line.
You can obtain an overview of existing and proposed WH&S laws at SafeWorkAustralia
Partner with ASWA for a strategic and sustainable approach to wellness
The Australasian Sustainable Wellness Academy’s approach to wellness has been specifically developed to help managers effectively and confidently lead healthier work teams. From developing resilience and mindfulness, integrating wellness principles into life and workplaces, to creating innovative workspaces and managing effective workplace relationships, our unique approach meets the needs of today’s organisations to create a safe, healthy and high-performing workplace culture by establishing strong structures and frameworks combined with flexible training and support to make healthy life and work practices commonplace.