Some jobs create a lot more stress than others. Many jobs are far from easy, from healthcare professionals working endless hours in an emergency room to financial analysts navigating volatile markets and construction workers trying to stay safe while building our country’s infrastructure.
Since employees are often at the mercy of their managers, it’s up to the company to ensure that every worker can stay safe and avoid burnout, anxiety, and worse. Below, we’ll discuss how dangerous excessive stress can be and the steps that industries can take to protect their teams and show appreciation for their efforts.
Many employees who work in high-stress jobs know what they sign up for when choosing their position, but that doesn’t mean they must endure endless anxiety to do what they love. When people have to work long hours day after day and feel constant pressure every minute of their shift, it can be very draining. Eventually, the tireless schedule can lead to unhealthy mental health conditions.
Anxiety is a significant issue because it can put the employee in a constant feeling of distress, which can bleed into their work, lead to mistakes, and even put them in potential danger on the job. Even worse, the anxiety could boil over and negatively affect their personal lives. If they can’t even rest at home and the turmoil is never-ending, it can also lead to other more serious mental issues, like depression.
Working long hours can also affect an employee’s physical health. For instance, sleep is essential for all people, and if staff members are constantly required to work 16-hour days and can’t get the appropriate rest, they could come in feeling fatigued. Plus, sleep helps the immune system to repair itself, so employees who don’t get what they need may start calling out sick more often.
Human bodies are not built to work all the time, and long hours can negatively affect employees in several ways, including their oral health. When stress impacts the immune system, it increases the risk of gum disease. Many people will also grind their teeth when they’re stressed, and it can cause the teeth to crack. Many will drink more coffee when they’re forced to stay focused for long periods of time, and the acid can erode the enamel on the teeth.
When managers know they have employees working in high-stress jobs, they need to be proactive in creating a work environment that helps the staff instead of hindering them. There must be a work-life balance.
This balance can come in many forms, from providing sick, vacation, and mental health days to offering employees flexible schedules if the work allows it. Employees who also get a chance to enjoy their personal lives will typically get sick less often, and they’ll be less likely to burn out. Plus, the team will appreciate that the company values them as human beings, and they’ll likely show their gratitude through their work. Managers must also allow their employees to take their breaks and lunches so they can mentally refresh and return to work safely and with a sound mind.
In addition to encouraging breaks, management can also look at what the employees are doing throughout the day and make modifications so things aren’t so hectic. Many high-stress jobs can be managed by automating repetitive tasks that slowly deteriorate employees’ mental health. Look into software and AI programs that can create and send repetitive emails on their behalf or analyze data in the healthcare or finance fields.
The advancement of technology has made it so that every industry can be helped with automation. For example, construction companies might use scheduling tools to set projects way in advance so there’s time to put the proper safety precautions in place. Company owners can research to find what would work best at their organizations.
High-stress employees may also feel less pressure on the job when they know that their efforts are appreciated. That starts with solid and open communication. Management should have an open-door policy, and the staff should know they can call or step into their supervisor’s office when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. When they do, management needs to have answers or a plan to help employees feel at ease so they can go back and perform at a high level.
A sense of camaraderie is also essential, especially in stressful jobs like construction and oil rig operations, where employees must depend on one another to stay safe. Companies should allow employees to interact so they can get to know each other better on a personal level. There are many ways to get the team together, starting with having a meeting at the beginning or end of the week. These can be either in person or virtual, and they allow employees to talk about their weekends and discuss their current tasks.
Management can also use templates to build team morale, such as a form that team members can fill in and use to check in with each other to say how their day is going. There are also show-and-tell templates that act as icebreakers. An employee could bring up a topic, and then the other employees could upload photos from their lives so they can further connect as a unit. When implementing these team morale exercises, ensure everyone gets a chance to participate and no one is left out. While these activities may not make a high-stress job technically easier, they can provide much-needed relief.
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any high-stress jobs. Still, many, like those in the healthcare and the construction industry, are often necessary so everyday people can continue to be happy, healthy, and safe. However, by implementing smart tactics and allowing all employees to enjoy a work-life balance, companies can ensure their teams have peace during their workday.
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