Small Business Minute: Dealing with stress

By Brian Leaf

If you’re stressed out about business, your employees are probably stressed out, too.

Job stress is costly. Health care costs nearly 50% more for stressed out employees, according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

And the workplace has never been more stressful. A quarter of employees see their jobs as the number one stress in their lives, according to one survey. Another found that three-fourths think work is more stressful than a generation ago.

Today’s stresses include fewer people doing more work, job loss fears, lower raises and increased pressure to balance life and work.

American Psychologist magazine says managers can reduce job stress. Here are some suggestions:

  • Design meaningful jobs so workers can use their skills and talents. Clearly define roles and responsibilities.
  • Let employees help in decisions affecting their jobs.
  • Inject humor into the workplace. Studies suggest that humor produces endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. That can help relieve tension, headache, backache and boredom.

  • Improve communications to reduce job security fear. Hold company get-togethers so workers can socialize.
  • Be flexible. Create work schedules that allow employees to meet demands and responsibilities outside of work.
  • Encourage exercise and wellness.
  • Stressed out workers not only increase health care costs, but their productivity suffers, too. That’s a double whammy that you can manage by eliminating workplace stress.

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