According to the American Institute of Stress-80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.
This past week I had numerous coaching calls with clients and while some things were going better than they had hoped for there were some things that were causing them to feel overwhelmed and not enjoying what they really loved to do. I listened and asked lots of questions and realized that as much as we plan to have businesses and companies that run like a well-oiled machine, the truth is that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. Of course, with the changes we’ve all experienced, whatever we were used to is no longer and we’re not sure what to expect next. So how do you create a stress-free environment and more importantly, is there such an animal … and how do you take care of your business or department so that stress remains as minimal as possible? It is important to focus on ways to eliminate stress, so you and your business can remain healthy. Being healthy should be a goal for everyone and that does include YOU.
Here is a question for you. Would you rather have a business where your team is engaged, ready to work and excited to be doing what they are doing and you are way ahead of your goals or would you rather have your team not show up and seem to be MIA and when they surface they are complaining about the work load or picky customers and production is at an all-time low? Seems like an easy choice but are you set up for success or doomed for failure? That’s what stress can do to your business.
According to research from an online community for business owners, the cost of stress is staggering for businesses—nearly $300 billion in lost revenues due to turnover, absenteeism, and loss of productivity. The workplace causes stress for 83 percent of all employees in the USA, and 40 percent of workers say they are less productive because of stress alone. Those numbers are staggering to anyone. So, what can we do about that?
Let’s start with leading by example. Stress is often dictated by leadership culture. I always said I would never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do and that included everything from emptying the trash to setting up meetings to providing customer service and then some. Your team should know about the direction and results of the business but you don’t have to share your personal challenges with them like the argument you had with your spouse or that your children were less than cooperative that morning. Remember, your personal life is called personal for a reason. Take a break when you need it and let your team know that you do encourage down time … just don’t forget the up time.
Next, introduce the concept of being social. We all work so many hours and often hear comments about not having time to do anything we love to do or that we forgot what we loved to do. Create social time and sometimes that can also be part of creating more production. When you are in sales and have a sales team, you can incorporate the fun and production by having a pizza night. We used to do this once a month. I would bring in pizza and invite everyone into brainstorm, bond, and build. We would all sit around a conference table and talk about what was working for them, what were the challenges and celebrate all of their triumphs. Inevitably someone would talk about making phone calls and then pick up a phone and “demonstrate” how they did it. Many of the agents would start making calls and by the end of the night we would have 10, 20 and sometimes 30 appointments set for the following week. Production was high and the next time we met, so was the excitement. We took the stress right out of calling, scheduling appointments and selling. BTW, that can be done via Zoom as well … so no excuses there.
Of course, there needs to be open communication available that will create a win-win situation – a leader is someone who provides this environment and that too helps reduces stress. When you are kept in the loop, you feel like you are a part of the team. There’s nothing worse than being blindsided by a decision that was made that involves you and you were not included. This works both ways as well. You too will be kept inside the circle of trust.
One of the biggest stressors is where you hang your hat aka your workspace. If you are in an office, think about what your team sees when they drive up. Close your eyes and imagine walking into your building. Can someone be successful there or is it a place that no one wants to go? Is it a place that is welcoming to everyone or does it make you feel like that square peg trying to fit into that round hole? If you work in a home office like so many of us do today, it’s no different. If walking into your office gives you that feeling of wanting to walk right back out, make some changes. Clean off your desk, file your papers, add a funky light or even a purple stapler. Have a picture of someone or something that makes you smile. It won’t cost a fortune to do but again, it will add some additional zeros to your bottom line.
Eliminating stress doesn’t have to have a million-dollar solution. It starts with the leader and is passed down to the rest of the team. But let’s not forget the leader of the pack. You have to take care of YOU. You can’t hire someone to do that. You need to do it yourself. So, to keep you at the top of your ToDo list, stay healthy, eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep. Have a plan and remember your priorities … including scheduling your personal time. Stay connected with your community and your social media but you also need to know when to unplug so that you can recharge your battery.
Remember too much stress literally causes the brain to freeze and shut down temporarily. Most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not the way life is. Adjust your attitude and all that extra stress is gone.