Stress takes two forms: one is motivating and challenging- where employees can grow with a supportive culture. The other can destroy even the best company culture in a second. It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve put into creating a positive work environment, over-burdened employees will soon get overwhelmed and burn out.
This cascading effect causes ripples throughout your organization- productivity will slow, and the chance for increased turnover increases dramatically.
The effects don’t end there. Once the word gets out that the organization has consistently high-stress rates, potential candidates will turn the other way. It becomes crucial to recreate the eroded foundation and reduce stress to improve the relationship your employees have with the company.
When you see this happening in your organization, the temptation to institute a bunch of new changes is high- any HR manager would want to stop this cultural erosion. But doing too much at once is a mistake. High-stress environments cause confusion and a bunch of new strategies at once will only add to the disarray.
So, what’s the solution? Get back to basics. A firm guiding hand to remind your employees what’s at the heart of the organization will solidify your company culture and values so that it may withstand the most stressful of situations.
These three basics will ensure your culture remains exceptional:
1) Become a champion of your company’s mission and values
When it’s clear to your employees how everything they do connects to the company’s mission and goals, it will reduce stress in the workplace overall.
Quite the contrary. You’ll find that your employees will feel empowered to overcome setbacks and instead focus on how their skills are used for the greater good.
A recent survey purports that 44% of responses say that overall corporate culture and company values are especially important.
The easiest way to empower your employees is to equip them with knowledge. The people that work for your company want to know the expectations you have for them. No one wants to play guessing games (or risk making mistakes) because they are unclear on their role.
The easiest way to ensure that employees fully grasp your organization’s mission and how their work supports those values is to make sure that the employee’s goals align with the company’s goals. Management needs to be investing time with staff and getting to know what their individual goals while connecting them to organizational goals.
As your staff completes the marks set for them, have conversations on appropriate next steps so that they are in a continual state of improvement.
2) Reality Check: Watch the Working Environment
Employees that are actively engaged in company culture want to do their part in contributing to a positive work environment. You can be most impactful here by ensuring that team members feel safe in their work environment.
The obvious stands out- of course, your employees should be free from environmental and structural threats as well as abusive treatment. But your company’s culture should also foster a working environment that employees are free to be themselves. This level of comfort encourages employees to be open with leadership when they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Being comfortable in the workplace allows employees to connect more deeply with coworkers and the company overall. Simple gestures like allowing employees to keep personal items at work that can be de-stressing, encouraging clean and organized workstations, implementing ‘relaxation zones’ and encouraging fitness breaks.
3) Keep Your Employees Focused on Their Skills
In this spirit, make it clear to employees that they are an expert in what they do, but they are not expected to solve problems outside of their focus. Employees are not responsible for anyone’s work being completed on time (other than their own) or fixing any company issues that may come up as a result.
Your employees can make the most significant impact doing what they do best. This doesn’t mean that your company’s culture should discourage employees from making suggestions.
The goal should be to empower your staff to apply themselves by focusing on contributing to the culture. Let’s be clear: you cannot prevent stress from affecting your organization. But you can avoid it from eroding positive workplace culture.