5 Ways To Help Workers Overcome Difficulties

Average workplace problems often cause increasingly serious consequences for employees and business owners when allowed to continue unresolved over a prolonged period. Greater costs in lost productivity and quality, runaway turnover rates, brand damage, etc. are some essential risks of leaving employees’ issues unattended. Fortunately, there are effective ways pavement sweeping business managers can gain control over serious situations that are causing widespread high stress.

Naturally, employees experience personal and job-related issues that can impact performance. Insisting that people simply keep their problems to themselves is not realistic. Their personal problems blend with workplace difficulties and vice versa. Stress levels escalate, job focus is compromised, priorities become confused, and working relationships are impacted. It’s a chain reaction.

Effects of Persistent Stress-Inducing Workplace Issues

Temporary stress (acute stress) normally does not cause serious effects on health or job performance. But, persistent stress (chronic stress) due to coping long-term with problematic circumstances can result in adverse mental and physical health conditions, poor work performance, and serious impacts on the business.

Consider what happens to people who are struggling to cope with functioning under persistent high-stress conditions at work. Job-related stress can lead to serious mental and physical health effects that can negatively impact the individual’s work and personal life and relationships.

These conditions often lead to declining work performance, loss of teamwork, diminished quality, soaring turnover costs, and other extreme effects. Those can ultimately severely impact individuals and their families and the business.

Workers’ Risks of Health Impacts from Job Stress

Unsurprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data indicates that a percentage of U.S. employees say that their workplaces are very or extremely stressful. That condition is not conducive to sustained success for a worker or the business. Some negative effects to people who are coping through long periods with high-stress home and/or workplace conditions can lead to serious health effects, for example:
• Anxiety
• Fatigue
• Depression
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• Cancer
• Heart disease
• Suicide
• Other extreme health effects

Business Losses Due to Workers’ Difficulties

Workers’ problems coping with difficulties at work reportedly cost U.S. American businesses more than $300 billion annually on average. In problematic circumstances at work, home, in the larger economy, environment, culture, etc., the impacts on workers’ stress levels, motivation, energy levels, and concentration affect their mental and physical states and can lead to:

• Reduced productivity
• Reduced quality
• Increased absenteeism
• Increased turnover
• Diminished employee satisfaction
• Diminished customer satisfaction
• Increased group healthcare premiums
• Damaged brand
• Reduced profit margins
• Other serious business impacts

How to Help Employees Through Difficult Periods

Here are some actions you can take to help employees and yourself stay focused in the workplace during prolonged periods of internal or external difficulties that elevate stress levels in the team:

1. Be Aware of Workers’ Stress Levels.

Owners of growing commercial pavement sweeping companies are typically working long hours and maintaining a high pace. Naturally, workers’ anxieties may not be noticed amid so many more immediate concerns. Stay mindful of employees’ stress levels and sense of engagement with their roles and the company.

• Make regular opportunities for each worker to have a free dialogue with their manager.
• Provide means for workers to give their input and feedback regarding working conditions and their employee experience.
• Maintain their awareness of support resources that are set up to help them manage their issues, For example, emphasize your open door policy for workers to communicate with management, or access to an outsourced HR agent, or the company’s EAP, etc.

2. Enable and Encourage Destressing Self-Care Practices for Employees.

In difficult situations, the body produces stress hormones that subside when people regain a sense of ability to resolve or successfully manage their situation. Business managers can help team members by attending to some essentials for better stress control:
• Provide routine quick sessions on prioritizing, managing time, and organizing.
• Require people to take time off for recharging and prevention of burn-out.
• Implement destressing practices at work, such as stretch breaks.
• Allow some amount of flex scheduling, working from home, etc., if possible.

3. Adjust Your Expectations of Employees, as Needed.

A common cause of extreme and damaging stress for employees is continuously struggling in futility to meet excessive expectations at work. To avoid the unnecessary consequences to people and your business, recognize your team’s actual capabilities. Evaluate your goals and expectations and adjust them to match that reality. Represent your values and the employer brand you want to develop. Unrealistic job demands cause losses due to employees’:

• Ongoing frustration and feelings of defeat
• Sense of hopelessness about goals
• Loss of confidence in their ability to achieve set goals
• Disengagement from work role and the business
• Damaged relationships between employees
• Lost trust for and loyalty to the company
• Feelings of employment insecurity

4. Model Good Self-Management for Your Team.

Employees can benefit from your example of self-management in adversity as they develop their own responses to their personal and job challenges. See the Additional Resources section below for a link to the insightful Harvard Business Review discussion of workplace self-discipline.

• Maintain a positive outlook during difficult times.
• Take time off from work regularly to avoid fatigue.
• Do not give way to anger or other emotions in the workplace.
• Model the healthy habits that support physical and mental coping skills.

5. Correct Problems in the Physical Work Environment.

Fundamentally, it is harder for most people to do their best and feel their best in an environment that is detrimental to an optimistic attitude and company pride. Correcting conditions in a poorly organized and maintained workplace can help workers feel much better about their jobs and the company.

• Declutter, clean, and organize the workplace.
• Improve dysfunctional processes.
• Organize paper and electronic file systems.
• Maintain reasonable noise levels.
• Update tools and equipment.
• Set up quiet, private space for doing more complex tasks.
• Provide as much flexibility in staff schedules as possible.
• Create a well-stocked, comfortable area for breaks.
• Upgrade the appearance with paint, furniture replacements, etc.

Evaluate the Mental and Physical Work Environment

Overlooking too many stressful issues and poor conditions in the workplace subjects employees to prolonged excessive stress. That can naturally be expected to produce unwanted outcomes for an employer: lost talent, dysfunctional teams, poor productivity and quality, customer dissatisfaction, and shrinking profits. Failing to help employees who are coping with difficult stressors inevitably becomes management’s top concern, either before or after it reaches a critical point for the people and the business.

To mitigate rising stress levels, managers can reprioritize, and redirect the team’s focus, and take other, more problem-specific measures to guide the group back on track and regenerate enthusiasm, engagement, motivation, commitment to the company’s mission and vision, and employee satisfaction. Using the above five suggestions can help with those objectives.

It may seem counterintuitive to some managers to prioritize the needs of the workers over the goals of the business. But, the two cannot be meaningfully separated in that way. Prioritizing the core needs of the people on the team is a bedrock business principle for developing and maintaining the enduring high-performance team that an organization needs to succeed long-term.

Additional Resources

Here are some excellent resources for general information about helping employees manage challenging circumstances at home and/or work: