Workplace Stress : Top Signs To Watch Out | 6 Steps To Address It Effectively


When your body perceives stress, it releases the “stress hormone,” called Cortisol, into your bloodstream. So it’s pretty natural to have a “flight or fight” response that has kept humans alive for thousands of years.

When stress goes up, Productivity goes down, leading to office burnout. The World Health Organization defines office burnout as a “state of vital exhaustion.”

Can you afford not to take it seriously as an organization’s leader? Especially when burnout and lower stress are proven to hit on Company’s Productivity and performance directly.

As per WHO, “For Every US$ 1 spent towards addressing reasons causing a stressful workplace; Organizations can get a return of US$ 4 in improved mental health and productivity.”

With “burnout” now officially recognized by World Health Organization, the onus of actively addressing the root causes is now on employers.

This recognition has sent a clear signal that the employer’s responsibility is to provide the right workplace environment to its employees and proactively address fundamental causes that may cause workplace stress or burnout.

You can no longer point fingers at an employee and say, “Hey, you cannot work here as you are the problem.”

Leaders need to learn skills and tactics required not only to address the problem of burnout but also, in the first place, they need to know how to identify the signs of the problem.

You need to avoid mistakes that can further add to the problem. The biggest mistake usually leaders make is to try to address the problem by implementing quick fixes or band-aid solutions without understanding the real issues and causes.

Being a leader, you need to address the problem by following 4 step process:

  1. Identify initial signs or behaviors of burnout or workplace stress
  2. Identify the exact causes behind the problem
  3. Deploy solutions as per the root cause and address the cause
  4. Put a System in place to avoid resurfacing of these causes again

Top 9 Factors resulting in stress in the Workplace

Below given are top factors behind causing workplace stress and low engagement

  • Times of uncertainty.
  • Having responsibilities that you’re finding overwhelming.
  • High workload
  • Harassment and bullying at work are commonly reported problems
  • Lack of supportive managerial or organizational practices
  • Negative workplace environment
  • Lack of clarity about tasks priority & Company’s objectives
  • Lack of flexibility to execute tasks
  • No or limited participation in decision-making

The above factors point out that the root causes of workplace stress do not lie within the scope of an employee, instead should be addressed by the management with effective prevention strategies in place.

Not addressing causes of stress at the Workplace:

  • Results in reduced Productivity
  • Increase in turn-over
  • Impacting mental health well-being of employees
  • In extreme cases can result in the death of the person suffering

Ask Better Questions: Before implementing any preventing strategies, as a leader, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What factors are making my team stressed out?
  • What makes my team members feel motivated and involved?
  • How can I make Workplace a safer place psychologically?

Asking these questions will help you to:

  • Narrow down your focus
  • Define a clear problem statement or hypothesis
  • State clear objectives you are trying to meet
  • Design small experiments or micro-pilot to test your solutions at a small scale
  • Using Data to quickly measure the impact of the effectiveness of your solutions
  • Optimize your solutions and implement them at a larger scale or Pivot

Involve your employees in the process of building a solution. Digital tools and simple surveys are easy to use and deploy — particularly if you ask a simple question and know what you will do with the information. However, how the data is used is critical to making this tactic successful.

Steps to Create a Stress free workplace Environment

  1. Creating a Natural friendly environment
  2. Encouraging Flexible Work Scheduling and Regular Breaks
  3. Ensure Psychological Safety
  4. Setting up clear Communication and Goals
  5. Offer Rewards and Recognition
  6. Focus on Recurring Feedback & One-on-Ones

Step 1: Creating a Natural & friendly environment 

The environment and conditions of your Workplace play a vital role in your Productivity.

Here are some of the simple yet the best areas in which you can aim:

  • Create an ergonomic workplace design to prevent virtual clutter and eye strain.
  • Choose the right colors in your office. According to color psychology, beige greens and yellow greens are the most stress-reducing shades. They also make an excellent neutral background for displaying art.
  • Let in as much natural light as possible and add a mild air freshener.
  • Add more greenery to the office. Place plants throughout the office and allow your team to decorate their areas and personal spaces.
  • Encourage Walking Meetings and Natural Breaks. Taking time away from the desk is a simple way to recharge and refocus.

Step 2: Encouraging Flexible Work Scheduling and Regular Breaks 

Encourage your employees to work remotely and give flexibility at times. This freedom is great for office morale, and the policy shows employees that you trust them enough not to babysit.

Well, I know it’s easier said than done. However, these few tips below will ensure and inspire them to sustain the productivity culture.

a) Train Your Managers; Lead by Example

When managers understand how the policy works, they are empowered to support their subordinates in any new or stressful situation. No matter how transparent your approach is, employees will ultimately follow the examples of their leaders.

b) Drip a sense of purpose

COVID has taught us that our Productivity is contingent less on location, more on leadership instilling a sense of purpose.

This paradigm shift prepares them to focus on how the value is generated, rather than where or when to work.

c) Ensure Accountability by educating them on the actual meaning of Productivity

Accountability is one of the most important aspects to look out for, starting by being clear about what Productivity means to the organization.

Invest deeply in teaching teams how to better manage their workday and time, leveraging collaboration and task management tools to work better and wiser.

d)  Operate Cross-Communication Tools

Implementing a cross-communication tool like Slack or RingCentral holds individuals accountable to be reachable, like walking into their office.

e)  Consider Tailoring the Policy

COVID-19 pushed some organizations into flexible work options without a real plan. It’s worked out for many, though!

Sometimes, it’s just about taking that leap of faith and trusting your employees. Not everyone in your organization can do remote work. However, many people work in essential functions.

It’s OK that everyone is not treated the same. Try allowing some leader discretion to allow flexible schedules.

Step 3: Ensure Psychological Safety

If any of your employees perceive the Workplace as a threat, you cannot build the trust that everyone needs to collaborate and innovate effectively.

Hence, it’s vital to encourage psychological safety to reduce stress at work.

Author Amy Edmondson provides 3 simple things that an individual can do to foster team psychological safety:

  1. Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.
  2. Acknowledge your fallibility.
  3. Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.

Psychological safety occurs when leaders create an environment for risk-taking that helps change without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career.

Step 4: Setting up clear Communication Goals

Effective business communication intends to forge and enhance relationships. It builds credibility and makes the employee feel optimistic about the organization.

Here are a few communications goal examples that individuals and businesses can use to improve stress-free work delivery by strengthening relationships.

  • Build clear communication with no vagueness
  • Develop and improve relationships
  • Share your purpose
  • Set positive change with reinforcement
  • Enhance the communication response rate
  • Diversify communication delivery
  • Use storytelling to be more relatable

Step 5: Offer Rewards and Recognition

As Dale Carnegie has rightly said, “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.”

Employee recognition is the open acknowledgment and expressed appreciation for employees’ efforts and contributions to their organization.

It could be a simple thank you, a note, a high-five, a special shout-out during the meeting, or even a bonus or gift for a job well done. Employees feel less stressed and highly motivated when their work has been noticed and appreciated.

If you fail to show your employees that you notice their contributions and how much you value them, they will never give you their best.

Step 6: Focus on Recurring Feedback & One-on-Ones

Feedback and One-on-Ones are the two prime factors that help individuals improve performance and boost career prospects.

Making it recur and allowing them to express their individual visions will make them feel valued.

Encouraging them to regularly share their opinions and ideas will eventually lessen their stress level.

Apart from these tips above, ensure always to provide the proper tools, resources, and education so everyone can complete their work, which can aid in creating a less stressful zone.


Stress is something that can’t be completely avoided, but you can help alleviate it when it arrives.

On creating a stress-free environment, the managers should acknowledge employee stress concerns and layout their plan on how they will help each team member come out on the other side with as little stress as possible.

The best thing you can do for your company and your team is embrace changes that benefit everyone before low morale hits.

The 6 detailed and straightforward steps we listed above can help you reduce employee stress at work. Plus, you produce loyal employees who enjoy coming to work every day.

As per research, An Engaged employee can bring a 4X ROI compared to an employee who is not engaged.

Can you still afford not to address workplace stress as a priority? I am sure your answer would be NO!

Check out various training resources you can avail to make your company a better workplace.

Get the latest industry updates : Once a Week Only!

Copyright © 2021. All Rights Reserved.