You can feel the stress building in the office. When your team convenes on Zoom calls, you can sense their anxiety. The smallest of discussions become huge drama-filled ordeals. Some unknown stress is spreading like a virus. It’s creeping into the psyche of your entire organization. Instead of ignoring it and hoping it goes away on its own, as a business leader you must address it and try to inoculate your team against this type of group ‘gloom-ice’.
If you don’t take immediate steps, a psychological pandemic can take a huge toll on productivity. As a business owner you have take the pulse of your organization regularly and perform preventative intervention if necessary. Are you noticing that some team members are acting different? The loud ones are quiet, the chatty ones are withdrawn, the water cooler conversations are dwindling… These are symptoms of a bigger problem.
If members of your team are taking unscheduled PTO (paid time off), calling out sick more often, or having difficulty giving you a complete day of work, it’s time to check in.
Is your staff angry, tense, or on edge? Are team members snapping at each other, taking things more personally and causing conflict for the smallest misunderstandings? Are meetings getting side-tracked and becoming unproductive “complaint” sessions? Then your business is spiraling into an abyss. If you don’t address this, it can suck the life out of your organization.
The problems usually start with one team member, and then spreads. Humans love community and even if the vibe is negative, they are like bees to honey when anxiety and discontent is in the air. The spreaders are clever, never out in the open; and they plant seeds of uncertainty amongst the rest of your organization. The strong members aren’t affected immediately, but the negative mob is hard to ignore. Those that don’t want to participate will withdraw and isolate which causes its own issues.
You must monitor the signs and deal with these situations decisively and consistently. One on one check-ins meetings where your probe for root causes of distress are important. It will help you diagnosis the illness, and help you find where it started. There are symptoms to watch for to ensure your organization stays mentally in the game.
If you have team members working unusually late hours, often skipping meals, and spending long weekends in the office, burnout is sure to occur. It’s reasonable to expect your team will put in long hours when a project or deadline is near. It is not reasonable to think that is the rule and not the exception. Work-life balance is critical to keeping your team healthy and satisfied.
What else can you do to keep your team productive? Consider some of these suggestions to reduce stress at the workplace.
- Break up the monotony. Consider changing meeting times or eliminating unnecessary meetings.
- Bring in a chair massage specialist to help reduce stress.
- Consider adding ambient music or white noise machines to the workplace.
- Make your office dog friendly or have ‘bring your pet to work’ days.
- Add diversions: basketball hoops, bubbles, nerf balls and toys.
- Offer mental health benefits and host ‘lunch and learn’ sessions.
- Encourage break time. Offer healthy snacks and healthy water options as alternatives for donuts and coffee.
- Start a walking club, book club or workout club.
- Add plants and succulents to the space.
- Offer flexible schedules and encourage normal workdays.
- Always set examples of healthy behavior.
Of course, practicing open communication and keeping a positive mindset is a great foundation but even the most progressive companies get infected sometimes. So, it’s critical to keep your eyes and ears out for the subtle signs.
Part of your Business Health Check needs to include a diagnostic of your culture and environment. Check in with your team dynamics to ensure that negative energy or mindsets don’t permeate your business. The sooner you can treat the symptoms, the easier it will be to remove the contagion.
A certified professional business coach can help you conduct a comprehensive Business Health Check. To connect with an ActionCOACH in your area, visit actioncoach.com and click on the “talk to a coach” button. We will connect you with a coach and the first coaching session is on us.