Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
Picture of a man stressed at work

How to reduce stress on the job

Studies show conclusively that one of the most stressful situations for employees is when you ask them to do a job and then not give them the tools they need to do it.

Bad leaders often take the position that “employees are getting paid so it should not matter how we ask them to do the work.” This ignores a basic human desire to be good at what we do.

Each new employee joins your organization full of hope and ambition. A great way to crush that spirit is to deprive them of the information and equipment they need to do the job well. Soon they will be just putting in time and doing the bare minimum. They won’t innovate. They won’t seek efficiencies. They won’t take initiative. They won’t be engaged. They won’t stay.

You can turn this around by actively seeking your employees’ input into how things can be done better and what resources they need to perform optimally at work. If you follow up based on what you learn, you can reduce your employees’ stress level considerably. You will be saying with actions that their work is important and that you value their efforts. This is far more effective than simply saying those words and then not providing them with the tools and materials they need to do their job well. There is a word for the latter way of behaving – hypocrisy. In my experience, employees can have very sensitive hypocrisy detectors, almost as sensitive as our children’s.

An example from IBEX is that every person in our office has two computer monitors. The IBEX herd geeks requested these many years ago and we saw the benefit quickly. You can be much more effective in a paperless environment with two monitors. Anyone who is on a computer all day doing multiple things will benefit from using two monitors, but how many companies make this possible?

Even if you have no budget to deal with the basic human need to have the right materials and tools all the time, you can still make progress. The most important way is to make individual accommodations for each person. Listen to their feedback and concerns and do what you can to accommodate their needs. The reality is that they usually understand your limitations and they will greatly appreciate any effort you make to accommodate them. In this area, it truly is the thought that counts.