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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"You Spin Me Right Round"

A recent poll by Right Management found a staggering 71% of senior executives and human resource professionals are feeling increased levels of stress in their jobs. Often, stress is the result of employees feeling a lack of control over their work. The 80s hit “You Spin Me Right Round” comes to mind. An individual’s work week might start off with a planned list of tasks and objectives, but because of rapid changes in priorities and unexpected “fires”, the best laid plans are left undone and things may feel like they are spinning of control.

High levels of stress are not sustainable. While some anxiety at work can fuel productivity, too much can result in burnout, fatigue, absenteeism, turnover and ineffective performance.

All stress isn’t created equal. Before initiating a formal stress management program, it’s crucial to determine at the outset what your employees perceive as the root causes of their stress. Causes can be uncovered with employee surveys and exit interviews. Then, to help employees get a better handle on stress, I suggest a two-fold approach:

1. Stress management training for employees to help them understand the causes of their stress and tools and techniques to better manage it.

2. Development programs and coaching for managers to improve their supervisory skills.

As the Society for Human Resource Management reports, research by one client showed poor teamwork and ineffective supervision were the two most important factors leading to employee stress. Managing is stressful, even for the best managers. But it’s very stressful being managed by someone who doesn’t know how to manage.

Here are behaviors that will help to ensure that your managers aren’t adding to employee stress levels:

-- Demonstrate loyalty and commitment to both the organization and employees through regular career discussions.
-- Instill confidence in employees’ abilities by delegating meaningful/challenging tasks.
-- Build strong teams through effective communication of plan, roles, responsibilities and expectations.
-- Maintain accountability for appropriate employee behaviors.
-- Earn respect by giving respect.
-- Show resilience and adaptability when dealing with challenges.

By providing training and career development, you will help both managers and employees feel more confident in their ability to do their jobs while also reducing stress and ultimately increasing productivity and performance.

Is your workforce spinning out of control?

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