What stresses your people more than anything else? It’s not only the cause of higher general stress, but it’s also the area where more employees ranked their workplace stress as severe.
Yeah, I already knew that.
If you have been in any leadership role, the number one source of severe employee stress won’t surprise you at all—it’s Organizational Change. But you might not know the triggers that cause change-related workplace stress to spike from moderate to severe.
Yes, it’s true that the business world is in constant flux—change is unavoidable. You’ve heard the term permanent whitewater as a description for the never-ending and chaotic nature of change in today’s organizations. You probably even recognize the benefits of change as signs of growth, vitality, and adaptability.
…because there’s a right way to do change and a whole lot of wrong ways. If your people are reporting severe levels of stress around change, you might be doing it wrong.
If change is inevitable, why worry about people getting stressed over it?
What triggers the spike?
The Stress Quotient survey breaks down three areas of change-related workplace stress: Communication, Process, and Vision. While you may not be able to stop change from happening, you do have control over how you handle these three areas. Pay extra attention to these three triggers of severe stress:
1) Communication Gaps: People react very strongly to unexpected, sudden, or unannounced change. If your people look shell-shocked after a meeting, it might be because you dropped a change-bomb.
Counteract this trigger by telling people in advance that change is coming and giving them time to respond and adapt. Whenever possible, give them a chance to participate in decisions that will affect them.
2) Process Goofs: Have you ever made a plan that looked brilliant to the management team but fell totally flat when you rolled it out? It seemed like a great process to you, but your people look at you like you just crawled out of the Flying Saucer from Mars.
To adapt, your team may need help to understand how the process, or plan, makes sense and how it connects to your goals. Without that understanding, their stress is headed way up (and their engagement is going to plummet).
3) Blurry Vision: This one surprised me. I expected employees to be more stressed when the company did not have a vision. But as we've looked at the Stress Quotient results with clients over the years, I've learned that two other vision-related factors were creating severe workplace stress.
What are they? One factor is when the company had a great vision but was not implementing it—big stress spikes for that one! The other was when the vision itself was causing stress because it looked overwhelming—some employees felt like they were going to be crushed under the burden of achieving it.
Next week’s lunch and learn will discuss ways to recognize, reduce, and remove stress in the workplace. Few seats still available - register now to join us!
What Can I do now?
We've put together an infographic about how to help your team manage stress right now.