Stress is bad for your health. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Just bad.
The problem is, you can’t always help it. Your employees can’t always help it either. Some situations—especially at work—are just plain stressful.
It can be especially difficult to manage workplace stress when you're not exactly sure of the cause. In some situations, work can feel much more stressful than in a similar situation. But what's causing that elevated stress level?
Take a look at your office environment. There are probably a few unknown stressors hidden there somewhere. Here are ten hidden stressors you might not have noticed before. Tackling these problems can help to create a much calmer environment that’s conducive to more efficient work.
Office spaces need to flow. Each space is going to be different, but they all need to be logical. Take a look at where you have each department situated and where common areas are located. Can people who need to work together access each other quickly and easily? Is the breakroom in a central area? These are all things to consider for a stress-free office layout.
The Copier (and other shared office equipment)
Major, shared office equipment can be stressful for a few different reasons. If it’s difficult to use, placed in an illogical location, or is unreliable, it can be a huge hidden stressor. It’s important to invest in equipment that works, and make that equipment easy to access. It’s not your employees' jobs to fix (or find) the copier. Removing that barrier will allow them to focus more completely on their work without extra worries.
Bathrooms should be clean. It’s as simple as that. No matter the size of your business, cleaning the bathroom needs to be made a priority. A messy bathroom is uncomfortable and adds stress that has absolutely nothing to do with actual job duties.
This room also needs to be clean for the same reasons as the bathroom. Outside of that, there needs to be a system that governs the breakroom. It’s important to know who refills the coffee (and how to refill the coffee), who to report to when items are out of stock, and how to label food so it won’t get stolen out of the fridge.
Poor posture can lead to back pain and overall discomfort. Discomfort can lead to irritability and stress. If employees are confined to one desk space for most of the day, make it as comfortable for them as possible. Try to find quality chairs that are adjustable to different body types and sitting styles.
For a lot of people, the internet is a vital tool for getting work done. If it’s spotty or slow, employees can’t work as efficiently as they’d like and can become frustrated with the problems they face due to bad internet connection. Finding quality Wi-Fi is often dependent on where you’re located. Consult with an IT professional to be sure your system can handle the work that needs to be done.
The Conference Room
If many a stressful meeting happens in the conference room, consider switching things up. After a lot of repetition, people can begin to associate places with certain feelings—even if it doesn’t apply to every single situation. You don’t want the conference room to become a place your employees dread going. Mix up meeting locations, and even throw in walking meetings if the group is small enough.
The Windows (or lack thereof)
Natural lighting in a workplace is an automatic soother. It’s excellent for maintaining strong mental health. There’s not a lot you can do if you building structurally doesn’t have a lot of window space to work with. Try to take full advantage of the windows you do have to maximize their effect in the office. You can also fake natural light in certain situations by painting and decorating with soothing colors, and opting for more natural looking light bulbs.
Email inboxes can get incredibly cluttered. Simply knowing that your inbox has gone unmanaged can make you subconsciously feel stressed. One way to address this issue is to encourage your employees to avoid filling each other’s inboxes. If things can be dealt with face-to-face or even over of the phone, that is always a better option.
Bosses and coworkers can be the most stressful part of a workplace environment. We know you don’t intentionally stress out your employees. But we’re guessing you don’t intentionally seek to relieve their stress either. Try to create a positive environment and support system for your employees. Seek to empower them rather than demanding the impossible from them. All of this can be nurtured by positive messaging and clear communication.
Ultimately, an office environment will always be associated with some level of stress. It’s probably not feasible to eliminate stress altogether. But it is important to be sure all stress is associated with a legitimate task or stressor. Don’t let unknown and unnecessary stressors mess with your employees’ minds.
What other stressors have you addressed at your workplace?