From policies on time off to incorporating mindfulness, here are 15 answers to the question, “What are the most helpful ways a manager can reduce stress levels in the workplace?”
- Enforce a No-Questions-Asked Policy for PTO and Sick Time
- Communicate Regularly
- Lead With the Example
- Actively Work on Feedback-Based Improvements
- Restructure the “Long Day”
- Be Clear on Goals and Expectations
- Cultivate Friendly Banter and a Cheerful Atmosphere
- Analyze the Distribution of Work
- Focus on Accomplishments Rather Than Tasks
- Offer Mentor Assistance Programs
- Understand What’s Causing the Stress
- Open Your Office to Pets
- Do Theme Days
- Encourage Self Leadership
- Incorporate Mindful Practices
Enforce a No-Questions-Asked Policy for PTO and Sick Time
One unique way for a manager to reduce stress levels in the workplace is to implement a “no-questions-asked” policy. This policy allows employees to take time off without explanation or justification and without fear of retribution. This can help to create an environment of trust and understanding, reducing stress levels for all involved.
Michael Alexis, CEO, Swag.Org
It’s amazing how much better a department feels and functions when no one is siloed. When you communicate regularly about what is happening, what priorities are, and what expectations are, employees will not only know what to expect but how to better plan and adjust their days. There’s nothing worse than feeling in the dark or left out when you are part of a team.
Lisha Dunlap, PR Marketing Manager, Chandler Gilbert Community College
Lead With the Example
As managers, we sometimes forget that people look up to us for clues and guidance, and what we say, how we behave, and how we interact can make a difference to our team and the workplace.
Effective written, oral, and non-verbal communication is key. If you go to the employees all “freaked out” about a delay in a project or a mistake made, you are already setting the tone and getting them to experience those emotions. Rather, managers should act cool, calm, and collected when imparting the message and model these behaviors through their actions and support in order to reduce the stress of the specific situation.
Managers play a key role and can make a difference—let’s just make sure that difference is positive!
Patty Hickok, Sr. Director Employee Relations, HRIS & HR Operations, Nana Regional Corporation
Actively Work on Feedback-Based Improvements
This one sounds so simple, but as a manager, you need to actively work on improvements based on staff feedback if you want to reduce stress, especially if it’s related to the intensity of the workload being put on your staff. The more your staff sees you taking their feedback and making improvements, the more they’re likely to trust you, too. The more you stall, the less they’ll believe that reduced stress or increased productivity will change.
Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks
Restructure the “Long Day”
Helping employees manage or reorganize their longest work days is one of the best practices for stress reduction. While most workdays are the same time length, every job has one or two days that everyone knows are the hardest subjectively.
Reassessing workflows on those days to make things easier, or simply finding new ways to motivate employees if that is easier said than done, can be a great stress reduction mechanism for everyone.
Lyudmyla Dobrynina, Head of Marketing, Optimeal
Be Clear on Goals and Expectations
Supporting team members in being clear on exactly what they need to do and what you expect of them might sound like a basic management 101 practice, but in my experience, it is far too often overlooked.
Change in business is inevitable, and when change happens quickly, the team’s responsibilities may be slow to catch up. If a change happens under organizational shifts in focus or pivots, it is up to leaders themselves to help teams understand the what, when, and how of the tasks and projects that fall under their responsibilities.
Here are three focus pillars you can bring into your 1-1 conversations to reduce stress:
- Role clarity: What do you want me to do?
- Predictability: How is what you want me to do changing from what I was doing before?
- Meaningfulness of work: Why does it matter?
Shauna Moran, Founder, Operate Remote
Cultivate Friendly Banter and a Cheerful Atmosphere
In my experience, managers who encourage humor and friendly banter among their teams excel at keeping stress levels in the workplace low. Humor is a powerful tool for relieving stress and establishing a positive environment, as it creates a sense of connection and community among employees.
When used appropriately, humor and friendly banter can help to lighten the mood, break up the monotony, and foster a more positive and relaxed atmosphere in the workplace. It can even make the employees feel excited about coming to the office!
However, managers need to be mindful of the line between appropriate and inappropriate humor, as some jokes or banter may be offensive or inappropriate. It is also crucial to ensure that humor and friendly banter do not interfere with the productivity or work of others. Managers can encourage a positive and lighthearted work environment while also setting clear boundaries and expectations to ensure that all employees feel respected and valued.
Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People & Culture Officer, HiJunior
Analyze the Distribution of Work
Especially in the last three years, teams have had to work within lean teams, and stress levels have heightened as employees have tried to manage work and life. Now, as companies try to manage the economy and stabilize their workforce, leaders can do more than just praise their team members for a job well done.
Leaders can take a look at their overall team and map out who is doing what. Using a project management tool can help with this process, but for those who don’t use one, simply create a master list of all projects and responsibilities. Then, review workloads and see if you can redistribute work so that it’s not just even, but sitting with the person best suited for that project. Let your team know you’re actively doing this, and stress will reduce immediately.
Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed
Focus on Accomplishments Rather Than Tasks
When the pressure is already high, there’s no reason to reiterate the tasks that need completion; rather, remind people they are valuable and worthy. People require validation in times of stress, not more work expectations.
One unique way for a manager to reduce stress levels in the workplace is by focusing on celebrating team accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on missed deadlines, it’s helpful to recognize and celebrate wins, successes, and victories, no matter how small.
Acknowledging the efforts of the team can reduce stress, increase motivation, and open up communication between workers and their managers. Celebrating team achievements can remind everyone that everyone’s combined hard work leads to meaningful results further down the line, reducing stress and feeling more energized about their roles in the company.
Yemisi Iyilade, Project Management Professional, Eminent Coaching Academy
Offer Mentor Assistance Programs
Mentor assistance programs could be a great way to foster an employee’s growth and confidence, which will inherently help reduce stress as well. A good mentor will help shape perspectives on how to maneuver within the workplace, as well as help strengthen an employee’s skill sets.
A robust mentor assistance program will also help employees identify their strengths and weaknesses under the supervision and observation of an experienced professional. These programs are an excellent way to evaluate skills, tendencies, attitudes, and quirks, leaving employees better prepared to succeed in the workplace.
Dakota McDaniels, Chief Product Officer, Pluto
Understand What’s Causing the Stress
We recently had a problem with stress in our team. I could see stress levels increasing in our “Officevibe” scores. What was interesting was that the reasons for stress were different.
For one employee, an excessive workload caused stress. The solution was to reduce the number of tasks on her to-do list. For another employee, it was unclear communication from my end (the manager caused stress) about expectations and specific projects. The solution to that issue was entirely different.
If you want to reduce stress, start by figuring out what’s causing it.
Julian Schaaf, Head of Marketing, Gomada
Open Your Office to Pets
Having animals around is a known stress reliever, and there are many ways you can implement this depending on your office environment. You can set a policy that allows pets as a rule, or you can designate certain days for people to bring theirs in. There are also therapy dogs whom you can coordinate with external groups to bring in for a day every so often to reduce stress levels among staff.
Carrie Shaltz Haslup, Founder & CEO, Tabeeze
Do Theme Days
Is there something your employees are very passionate about? Maybe their favorite sports teams or bands? If your workplace usually requires a dress code, give them a day to show more of their personality.
Invite those interested to dress as their favorite animated character or rep their favorite team, and hold a vote for future costume categories, such as “Best Group Costume” or “Most Realistic”—maybe even give a small reward to the winners, such as a gift card to a local restaurant or store. This occasion doesn’t have to be just one day a month, either; you could do a different theme each day for a particular week, or do “Theme Days” every Friday.
Nick Allen, Founder & CEO, SportsLingo
Encourage Self Leadership
Employees who feel confident in their decision-making abilities will rarely feel stressed when working for a given company and are more likely to be productive and successful. To build up this confidence and reduce stress levels in the workplace, it is important to cultivate self-leadership in your employees by allowing them to approach problems the best way they know how, provided it is within the confines of the company’s practices.
When your team members trust themselves to decide on their own that you will not chastise them for, their stress levels reduce significantly, and their motivation increases.
Alvin Wei, CMO, SEO Ant
Incorporate Mindful Practices
As a manager, one unique way to reduce stress levels in the workplace is to incorporate mindfulness practices into the daily routine. This can include things like guided meditation breaks, yoga sessions, or even just a few minutes of quiet reflection at the start or end of each workday.
Not only can these practices help individuals reduce their own stress levels, but they can also create a sense of community and support within the team. By setting aside dedicated time for these, you can show your team that their well-being is a priority and encourage them to prioritize their own mental health.
Another unique way to reduce stress in the workplace is to encourage team-building and social activities outside of work. This could be as simple as organizing a group lunch or happy hour, or something more elaborate, like a team-building retreat. These activities can help to foster strong bonds and relationships among team members, which can create a positive and supportive work environment.
Karan Tiwari, Content Manager, LonelyAXE