Stress is to productivity as a wall is to a runner! But what are the main factors that make so many workers hit this wall? You’re in luck as a recent survey of 1,500 workers in varying positions and professions has reported the common road bumps they incur daily that leaves them feeling stressed at work. We have listed the top 5 below in descending order.
No surprise that a lack of information is the number one stressor. Nothing can be more stressful at work than having to read people’s minds. And the problem is exactly that, vital information is omitted by other people, which makes this just as much a communication issue as it does an information problem. Put yourself in the situation, you get to work early, you’ve had your coffee and you are pumped to get going but suddenly you find out that the job you are meant to be on today has been delayed as other team members haven’t finished their tasks yet.
The solution proposed is a tool or system that allows team members to see where all the projects in the company stand and the progression of each aspect. This makes roadblocks clearer and members of the team responsible for their allocated informational input, or sometimes lack of. Making team members responsible for their input and having real time updates of job progress really could be the difference between your team’s stress levels being through the roof or having a team that is productive and cool as a cucumber.
A never-ending list can be daunting and can lead to a lot of stress. But even more importantly as more items are added on the to-do pile it can lead to important tasks being neglected or forgotten all together. If you are in a service industry you can’t just forget about clients or you won’t be in the industry much longer. But receiving late paper work or having to wait around for a contractor to arrive can too often leave clients feeling neglected. If you ever had to wait in all day for a plumber to arrive or for a parcel to be delivered then you’ll surely know the frustration I am talking about.
Improving prioritisation is all about organisation. Different industries and professions need different techniques. Office-based workers should adopt the ever-popular agile project management method. Whist day-to-day contractors or service industry workers need a more advanced real-time method of organisation. There is no point ordering jobs by priority if it mean travelling 20 miles to your next job only to find out that the job after that was in the same place that you just drove 20miles from. Here the best solution would be to order work by means of importance and location. A geo-planner and live panel planner would do the trick.
Unrealistic goals can result in a day that seems never ending and an employee that is dissatisfied, stressed out and exhausted. Getting the most out of people doesn’t have to mean pushing them to their limits. Managers want results and employees want an easy life. Which leads to employees taking too little or too much on. Worst yet the spill over of yesterdays work will effect the day after and the day after that…
So what’s the solution? Communication! Sounds so simple, it isn’t! The problem is again that managers want result and employees too often want an easy life. How can you achieve both… take the pressure off but monitor progress closely. Move away from the ancient vertical to-do list. Use a system that takes the employees current position, assigns a prioritised job in order of location or importance, time-stamps the progress of the current job and then notifies the manager when a task is completed so that they can assign a new task. The employee never has to negotiate the volume of work they can do that day and the manager knows which job have ran over the estimated time assigned and why. But what about deadlines?
Deadlines are important, but changing deadlines are also a major factor in stressing people out, which leads to reducing productivity, which leads to a deadline being stretched out. So as you can see deadlines can often be their own worst enemy. Deadlines are in place either because other team members need a specific task completed to progress with their task or because the client needs the work done by a certain date. The reality is no one can predict the future and deadlines will get change… so deal with it. That’s the solution, dealing with it. Dealing with a change as soon as it happens with diminish its impact and will decrease anxiety that can build up around the change. Dealing with it means having clear lines of communication every step of the way. This can often be a time-consuming task so it is important to have SMS alerts, email auto-responders and communication tools in place.
Manager, directors and owners make mistakes. It happens, they are humans. Problems only arise when leaders don’t take clear responsibility for their action and set a course to correct them. Here again is the importance of communication. A leader must be willing to admit and correct their mistakes. However employees also need to be able to communicate the mistake to leaders without the worry of bias against them in the future. A tool that documents all tasks assigned and allows a clear chain of recorded written communication can often give the employee a feeling of safety when communicating with managers. Anonymous surveying tools can also be effective when the matter isn’t an urgent one. However when the matter is really important the best results often occur from scheduling a face-to-face in a professional environment.