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Workplace Woes: How to Handle Stress and Difficult Co-Workers

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Employee Management

Workplace Woes: How to Handle Stress and Difficult Co-Workers

Dealing with workplace stress and difficult coworkers is often easier said than done. From setting boundaries, learning to communicate effectively, developing a support system, taking care of oneself through self-care practices, and finding activities outside work to de-stress.

Jackie Edwards
January 18, 2023
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January 18, 2023
8 min read
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Work-related stress is common, but Gallup's latest report reveals that workplace stress has never been higher. According to news on Insights, the report shows that 60% of employees globally are not engaged, and 19% are disengaged completely. Stress is the leading obstacle to employee engagement in the modern workplace. If left unresolved, stress can have serious mental, emotional, and physical effects on employees. Your business is also more likely to experience low productivity, more absenteeism, poor employee retention, and massive financial losses. You must know how to keep employees healthy and happy as an employer. Ensuring your employees are stress-free will have positive benefits to the success of your team and company. Keep reading to understand how to handle workplace and co-worker stress to boost employee engagement.

Understand the Cause of Job Stress and Co-worker Problems

While work environments differ from industry to industry, factors contributing to work stress are similar across all industries. In most cases, work stress comes from poor leadership. This may revolve around a need for more understanding of leadership roles, poor job feedback from the executive, and little knowledge about the company vision. Unhealthy workloads, personnel issues, poor work flexibility, and lack of growth opportunities are other causes of job stress and colleague conflict.

To maintain a stress-free workplace, employers must ensure that the work environment is in optimum condition. Naturally, employees feel relaxed and more engaged if the workplace is perfect. So, evaluate your employees' needs and the environment you've created for them to ensure it's an excellent match. If your office is stressful or has a tense vibe, make realistic adjustments to make it more relaxed.

1. Eliminate Heavy Workloads

Employees with too many tasks and responsibilities feel they should work extra hours to complete their tasks. Working extra hours seems ideal, but it results in burnout and reduces productivity and engagement for the entire team and organization. It is, therefore, crucial for managers to ease workloads by setting expectations and modelling a work-life balance behaviour. Reducing work shifts is a good starting point to ensure employees have enough time to rest and manage stress. Reasonable work shifts help boost employee morale and productivity and reduce the risk of workplace injuries. Also, encourage your workers to spend quality time with family and friends and enjoy their hobbies to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

During work hours, ensure that employees take mini-breaks regularly to recharge and rest. You can nurture the culture of taking breaks by inviting workers to join you for a 10-minute walk, meditation, or getting fresh air. Equally important, assign tasks that challenge your employees' abilities without overwhelming them. Challenges help develop skills, boost motivation, and make teamwork enjoyable. But if the tasks demand employees to spend extra hours, it leads to irritability, reduced productivity, and injury or illness. With that said, provide resources and an option to call timeout if the assignments at hand are complex.

2. Allow Remote Working and Flexible Hours

A lack of flexible working hours can add to employee stress in any workplace. Managers can establish flexibility in the office by allowing workers to rotate shifts when necessary. Giving employees control over their work schedule helps in stress management. So, let your workers work part-time, telecommute, or choose staggered working hours. This step proves to employees that you trust them to do their work well without supervision, thus boosting morale.

Allowing remote work is another excellent way to improve employee productivity and time and financial savings, accommodate special needs and reduce transport emissions. Not to mention, employees can customize their workspace to boost performance. There are many design ideas for a home office to enhance efficiency when working remotely. To create ideal home offices, employees should separate work and play areas using design features like bookshelves or side tables. Adding ergonomic furniture, plants, and lighting also helps create productive workspaces in the living room.

Like any other workplace setting, working from home may be challenging. Employees experience social isolation and distractions and have difficulty separating work and life. As a manager, organize regular in-person meetings, adopt video conferencing to promote team collaboration, and establish healthy work shifts.

3. Promote Healthy Team Relationships

Typically, stress levels in the office run high when co-workers don't get along, respect, or trust each other. Employers can help improve relationships among teammates where integrity and honesty thrive. Creating a culture of openness is one of the best ways to improve workplace relationships. Therefore, encourage workers to be honest with each other and to avoid bad habits like gossiping.

It's worth noting that conflicts in the workplace arise when all employees want to be in charge of a project or entire department or when co-workers feel that a teammate needs to pull their weight. When managers micromanage teams, or a team member takes credit for someone else's effort, you can expect colleague conflict. Fortunately, employers or team leaders can resolve office conflict professionally and transparently by dealing with it head-on. It would be best if managers also made it a habit to communicate job expectations clearly and provide a medium to give and receive feedback. Organize non-work events to create room for employees 

Jackie Edwards

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