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5 Ways To Reduce Job Stress

Monday April 15, 2024

Woman sitting at a desk at work with hand on head, feeling stressed and burned out

Research from Gallup reveals that 44% of employees worldwide are stressed. This is problematic since job stress damages the health and well-being of employees at every organizational level.

Leaders hoping to improve their organizational culture and boost employee morale should prioritize finding ways to reduce job stress.

Here’s an overview of why this is important, and five ways leaders can combat stress in the workplace.

How Does Job Stress Impact Well-Being?

Research compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) highlighted the following concerning statistics about stress:

  • Workplace stress causes approximately 120,000 deaths each year
  • 54% of workers say stress negatively impacts their home life
  • 65% of employees view work as a significant source of stress in their life

Executives also experience significant workplace stress. In a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers examined how stressful work environments—economic downturns, corporate takeovers, or strict corporate governance regimes—impacted CEOs’ lifespans.

It found that when CEOs lead companies through industry downturns, their life expectancy decreases by approximately 1.5 years.

Stress also impacts the company’s bottom line. According to Gallup, companies spend on average between 15% to 20% of their total payroll on voluntary turnover due to burnout.

 

It’s clear that reducing employee stress is vital for employee well-being and the company’s finances. But how can leaders combat job stress?
Below are five suggestions.

5 Ways To Reduce Negative Job Stress

1. Prioritize Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the degree to which employees are involved and enthusiastic about their work and the company they work for.

According to Gallup, the employees least likely to be dealing with negative stress are the ones who are the most engaged. Employee engagement is approximately 3.8 times more likely to reduce stress than work location.

Unfortunately, additional research from Gallup shows that between 2023 and 2024, employee engagement dropped three percentage points. Only 30% of workers are actively engaged—4.8 million fewer than in 2023.

Teamraderie’s live, virtual team experiences are excellent for increasing engagement. Participating teams saw an average increase in engagement of 22%.

2. Address Microstress

Microstress is one of the top causes of stress in the workplace. This concept refers to multiple small stressors that build up and contribute to an overall sense of distress.

These stressors aren’t always apparent but can accumulate over time without anyone noticing.

Research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) groups microstresses into three different categories:

  • Microstresses that interfere with your ability to accomplish things
  • Microstresses that drain you emotionally
  • Microstresses that challenge your identify

To address these stressors, it’s important to help employees tackle them one at a time.

The first important step is to identify these stressors. Then, by tackling them individually, they can slowly be eliminated. This approach is more effective than seeking to remove all of them at once, since doing so will likely feel overwhelming.

3. Optimize Stress

While stress is typically put in a negative light, some stress can be productive.

Psychologists define “eustress” as a form of stress that benefits well-being and overall health.

For example, any time you have to complete a project on a deadline, there’s a certain degree of stress that motivates you to accomplish it within the allotted time.

How you respond to stress largely determines whether or not it’ll be productive. An article from McKinsey reveals that, in a normal stress response, a stressful event is followed by a period of rest and recovery.

If this doesn’t occur, and there isn’t an opportunity to recover from stressors, it’ll quickly turn into chronic stress, leading to a variety of negative outcomes.

To optimize stress, McKinsey recommends the following:

  • Identify your stress: Help your team understand their triggers and how they respond to them.
  • Create room for focus: Encourage employees to block out time for intentional focus and seek to reduce distractions.
  • Prioritize rest and recovery: Allow employees to create the conditions needed to recover from a stressful situation, whether microbreaks, physical activity, or breathing exercises.

As employees get better at these individual steps, encourage them to find ways to alternate between engagement and recovery.

Purposeful transitions between the two will help encourage your employees’ natural responses to stress to take effect, creating an environment conducive to eustress.

4. Be Consistent

Managers are responsible for approximately 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Since engagement and stress are intertwined, managers significantly contribute to employee stress.

According to HBR, two ways leaders often stress their employees out include erratic behaviors and emotional volatility. If employees don’t know what your expectations are, they aren’t going to feel confident in their ability to meet them.

Consistency is key to helping your team avoid unnecessary stress. By demonstrating stability, vulnerability, and self-awareness, you can bring out the best in your team members.

5. Address Your Own Stress

According to McKinsey, when leaders don’t address their own stress, other team members will be impacted.

Whether because of “empathetic stress” or because the fallout from poor stress management negatively impacts employees, leaders should ensure they’re setting an example for their team.

According to HBR, when leaders create stressful environments for their employees, they often create “emotional contagion”—similar emotional responses spreading among people.

This can:

  • Demotivate employees
  • Decrease job satisfaction
  • Reduce team performance
  • Increase burnout

To address this, leaders should be cautious about what they say, aiming for clarity and honesty. This is a key component of psychological safety, which is the ability to speak one’s mind without negative repercussions.

Vulnerability is another key component. It’s critical that managers feel empowered to discuss personal well-being topics with their team to let employees know that it’s okay to not be okay.

Reduce Job Stress With Teamraderie

In addition to improving employee engagement—which is key to reducing stress—many of Teamraderie’s team experiences focus on improving employee well-being.

Whether your team members need specific skills—such as emotional intelligence or even improving sleep—or simply need a break from the stress of the workday, our experiences are perfect for boosting well-being.

Click here to navigate our experience finder and browse our 60+ expert-led team experiences.

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