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The Heat is On

In many parts of the world, July is the hottest month of the year. While we can’t do much to control the weather outside, there are many things we can do to help control the environment in our own workspaces…and we’re not just talking about the temperature.

In any company, there are times of high stress and busyness. Stress is a natural part of life at times, but there are many things employers can do to help themselves and their employees get through these “hot” times of life.

In a recent article by the American Psychological Association, they outline five main stressors in the workplace that if addressed, can greatly minimize on the job stress.

  1. A Sense of Powerlessness. Many employees feel powerless and feel like they have no authority or little control over events. A smart employer will find ways to give each employee a “voice” in their job. Employees need to feel like they have a safe place to come to when they need to air grievances, offer suggestions or report a problem. Empower your employees by giving them ways to have authority over their position and help them feel personally responsible for their job.
  2. Lack of a Job Description. When employees don’t have a specific job description, they can feel a little aimless and unimportant. One employee received a promotion to a job that didn’t include a specific job description. With little training and no direct supervision, this employee literally didn’t know what she should be doing and spent a lot of the first weeks in her job just sitting in an office with not much to do. While this may sound good on paper, it was hugely stressful to the employee and she didn’t feel like she had a real purpose. Specific job descriptions are key to each position in a company and are a great measuring tool to ensure the employee is meeting expectations and doing what he or she was hired to do.
  3. Square Peg in a Round Hole. Sometimes employees just really don’t feel like they’re a good fit in the job they have, but they feel like they have to do for financial or other reasons. The quick answer to this stressor is to find another position that fits their wants and needs, but this can often be hard. Employers need to have open communication with their employees to help them feel challenged and happy in a position.
  4. Traumatic Events on the Job. Some jobs such as firefighters, criminal justice personnel, military and disaster teams often witness horrific events. Employers need to have a game plan in place to help these employees deal with traumatic stress on the job. Other traumatic events could include the loss of a coworker, natural disaster, robbery, car accident and a boss or client being physically threatening. Again, having tools in place to help out in these situations is crucial to the healthiness of the workplace.
  5. Work Setting. Sometimes just your work environment itself can really turn up the “heat” in employees. Simple things such as poor lighting, lack of privacy, poor temperature control or inadequate sanitary facilities can really make a huge difference in the happiness of your employees. If you like the temperature at a very cool setting, you may want to consider offering space heaters to your employees who have differing temperature needs. Employees can also go to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if they feel their work environment in dangerous to their health and safety from a physical standpoint.

The majority of these five stressors in the workplace can be easily addressed and remedied with not a lot of time or money. Smart employers will take a good look at what really “turns up the heat” in their workplace and implement strategies to overcome these things.

For more information on these workplace stressors, the full article from the APA can be read here: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/workplace-stress.aspx

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