For many, the holiday season is a time for joy and celebration. However, the holidays can also be stressful, with additional costs and social expectations. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people said their stress level increases during the holidays. In another survey, 53% of people said they feel financially stressed by holiday spending, according to Principal Financial Group.
While stress may seem like a personal battle to deal with at home, The American Institute of Stress estimates that job stress costs U.S. industries over $300 billion each year as a result of: accidents • absenteeism • employee turnover • diminished productivity • direct medical, legal, and insurance costs, and • workers’ compensation claims as well as tort and FELA judgments.
Safety experts at Magid, a national PPE manufacturer and distributor, recognize that stress management is a growing concern. To help companies keep workers safe and avoid hits to their bottom line, Magid is offering free resources from its Safety Matters® Resource Center. Here’s their advice on recognizing and managing stress in the workplace.
Signs Of Stress
While the expectation at some workplaces is to “leave personal problems at the door,” that advice is never very realistic. And in this day of texting, social media, and a phone in everyone’s pocket, it’s even less likely. The communication age makes it more important than ever to make stress management a high priority But before you begin to tackle how to reduce stress, be sure you can recognize the impact and signs of stress in your employees.
Excess stress can be caused by personal problems or by work issues like lack of job satisfaction, or layoffs. But any source of stress can cause workers to lose focus. Stressed workers may also be more likely to turn to harmful ways of coping like alcohol, illegal drugs, or improper uses of prescription medicine – any of which can contribute to higher incident rates.
So just as you check for safety compliance, be on the lookout for signs of stress. Stressed workers often: seem overtired; have trouble concentrating; complain a lot or have low morale; seem anxious, argumentative, or irritable; and may have frequent accidents.
How To Help
What can you do if you have an employee checking some of these boxes? First, give them a chance to clear the air. Let them know your door is open and that you care. If the problem is work related, ask them what they’d like to see change and try to help where you can. The solution to the problem might be something as simple as:
- Allowing more frequent breaks
- Redistributing responsibilities
- Reprioritizing tasks so high-priority work gets finished first, leaving some room to breathe
- Building in regular venting sessions for workers to air their thoughts and make suggestions
You might even consider adding a stressed worker to your safety committee. If they’re stressed because things could be done better, tap into that knowledge and use it to make your workplace more efficient.
If the stress is caused by a personal problem, refer them to any counseling services your HR Department may provide. Above all, never ignore stress issues, even if they make you uncomfortable. Let workers know they have to work on stress management and that you’re there to help. Because better communication can keep everyone safer and more productive.
Sutherland is a senior copywriter at Magid.
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