What Is The Cost Of A Stressed Out Team?

Managers can lower the stress that their team is feeling
Image Credit: fotologic

Remind me – is stress a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, some stress has to be a good thing, right? This is what motivates your team to accomplish goals and meet deadlines. All of this is valid information; however, it turns out that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Too much stress can cause the members of your team to start to have some real physical problems. Your business practices can affect both the physical and the mental state of the members of your team. How are you going to use your manager skills to do something about this manager?

The Problem With Stress

So the good news about most workplaces is that the risk of getting injured at work has gone down over the years. However, it turns out that the harm to team members from stressful working conditions has not received the same attention that physical harm has gotten. The government is telling us that stress is the #1 leading cause of workplace health problems. This means that it’s a bigger deal than physical inactivity or obesity. The studies have also shown that stress is a big contributor to absenteeism, turnover, and loss of productivity.

A study that was done in the U.K. showed that more than half of the work days that were lost to ill health we lost due to stress, depression or anxiety. Just to make things even more difficult for managers, there is also a condition where team members come in to work, but are not at their physical or psychological best. Additional studies have shown that stress can have a bigger impact on a person’s health than secondhand smoke. All of this stress turns out to be very expensive for the companies that we work for. It is estimated that stress costs US$190B each year in excess costs along with 120,000 deaths.

The problem with stress is that it is sneaky. All too often managers don’t realize that they are being held back due to lost time and productivity. We look at our workplace and we may be pleased with what we see. However from the viewpoint of the members of our team, they may view it as being a place with unhealthy workplace dynamics. There are a lot of different things that can contribute to making a workplace stressful. The hours that the members of your team are required to work can be a factor. How much control the members of your team have over the work that they do is a big factor in determining levels of stress. Finally, economic security plays a role in everyone’s life and can lead to feelings of stress.

Dealing With Stress

How can managers create workplaces where the members of our team will feel less stress? The first thing that our manager training tells us to do is to take a look at is our ability to provide members of our team with regular, limited work hours. What this means is that the members of your team want to have stable work schedules and they would also like to be given some say over the hours that they are asked to work. All of this can be a good thing for a manager. It turns out that per-hour productivity declines as the number of hours worked increases. A key part of reducing stress associated with work schedules is allowing workers to design their own work plans. This allows team members to work more intensely when they are at work and they are more motivated when they show up to start working.

Team members want to be able to have some say in what they are working on. Studies have been done that show that when team members are allowed to determine what they will be working on, they are subjected to less micromanagement. The result of this is that team members are more motivated and become more engaged in their work. An additional benefit is that workers who don’t have control over what they are working on tend to have more health related issues.

If there is one thing that can cause the most stress in the members of your team, it’s worrying that they will lose their job. Economic security is a key way to reduce the amount of stress that team members are feeling. What managers need to realize is that there will always be economic downturns. When these happen, if the company is willing and the team agrees to pull together, then everyone can give up some of their wages and with that sacrifice it can be possible to hold on to more jobs than they would be able to do otherwise. Think of this as being a form of economic team building.

What All Of This Means For You

Managers need to realize that their teams are experiencing stress while they are at work. The result of this stress is that the members of your team are going to start to experience real physical problems. As a manager you need to realize that the more stress that your team experiences, the less work that they are going to be able to do for you. You need to find ways to reduce everyone’s stress levels.

Stress is the biggest contributor to workplace health problems. As team member’s stress levels go up, turnover and sick days both start to increase. Team members who are experiencing high levels of stress may still come into the office, but they won’t be very productive. Stress in the workplace is very expensive for companies. A stressful workplace can make everyone sick. If managers want to reduce the amount of stress that their team members are experiencing they can allow members of our team to work regular, limited hours. We can allow them to have some say in what they will be working on. We can also strive to provide them with economic stability and job security.

Managers who realize that their team is experiencing stress in the workplace are on the right path. Once they understand the issues that their team is facing, they need to step in and find ways to reduce the amount of stress that everyone is feeling. If you can accomplish this as a manager, then your team will start to be viewed as being a team that operates with less stress. Everyone is going to want to work for you because they know that their life will be better both at work and at home. In the end, that’s what everyone wants!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How do you think that managers can measure how much stress their team is under?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the least desirable parts of being a manager is the number of meetings that we find ourselves attending. In fact, there seem to be some days that are just back-to-back meetings that never seem to end. While we are in these meetings it’s pretty common for a manager to wish that they were just about any other place. It turns out that meetings are important ways for information to get shared within a company. However, it sure seems that a lot of the meetings that we find ourselves attending despite our manager skills are a complete waste of our time. Isn’t there a better way to do these things?