Wellness Wednesday: Workplace Stress Edition
Workplace stress is no stranger to small business and especially now, as we recover from a global pandemic, these candid conversations are more important than ever. Business owners, employees, independent contractors, assistants, and even our customers feel the impacts of a stressful business environment. It's possible that you're thinking, "I'm a small business and don't have the big Corporation dollars to provide fancy spa days for my employees to help manage stress!" And that's okay! Workplace stress management fortunately doesn't cost a dime. It does however cost some effort.
During the pandemic, small businesses were hit hard, faced with difficult mandates that limited shopping, and customer spending. Unless you manufacture your own brand of toilet paper, or disinfectant wipes to sell, you felt 2020 in your pockets, morals, and definitely in your mental health.
In addition to pandemic work stress, there is always the looming evaluations, bottom lines, and the day to day stresses that come with running a business, as well as managing your own mental health. Workplace stress is a trickle down effect; your mental health effects all who come in contact with you and the environment around you.
So, what do we do about it? Here are a few suggestions to assist you in creating a healthy work and shopping environment:
Your Mental Health Matters! - If you're the business owner, manager or supervisor your stress levels matter! In fact, they matter more than who your employee is surrounded by when they are not at work, mostly. We spend so much time at work that it's inevitable individuals who are happy with their employment volunteer to do more in crunch time and are more willing to stick through the tough times with you. Work, for years, has been a refuge for the "not so great" home life. The cornerstone of that workplace refuge is you! What self care routines do you engage in? If you're struggling with that, try golfing, reading, bird watching, sailing/boating, camping, having stay-cations or scheduled alone time to goof off and play the silly video game your partner 'huffs' at. For me, I need a week off every quarter. It's a necessity to do the job I do. It impacts my clients, my partner, my friends, my IC therapists, and interns. In order for Healing Selves Therapeutics to thrive, I need those vacation weeks. You do too! Your business deserves to see and experience the clear mind you get when you practice self care!
Vitamin D - The sun is the cheapest antidepressant in the world! Sure, sometimes we need more than just a ton of being outdoors, and yet being outdoors is statistically rejected as an assistant in depression. Just for giggles, and perhaps to prove me right/wrong, whatever works, next time you find yourself in the middle of crunching numbers like a coffee grinder, step outside, doesn't matter the weather, if raining (umbrella if you like). Walk around your area; yard, garden, down the sidewalk, around the block. It doesn't matter where or what you're doing out there, just get out there, for at least 30 minutes. You'll be surprised by the results noted in your mood, affect, and overall outlook.
Listen - As business leadership, mental health positive work environments don't manifest under the "iron fist." You can learn so much about your staff by listening to what they have to say. Of course you can't grant all the wishes or implement all the suggestions. You can, however, say that upfront and get to know those who work with you. Spending an extra 10 mins after a staff meeting to ask an employee how their kids are doing with virtual school can make the difference between an employee who feels productive and heard, and an employee who feels you are as invested in them as Mr. Burns is invested in Homer.
Culture - Create a workplace culture that is inclusive, inviting, and secure. You can do this by making yourself available for your staff for consistent times daily (not all day). Sometimes a simple suggestion box helps. Build a community within your workforce that has the same goals - theme weeks, staff contests, staff goals, and staff ideas matter and are a promised method of building culture.
Use Your Peaceful Discernment - In other words, try not to bring negative energy into your secure work environment by not being selective in your hiring. I get it, sometimes we just have to fill positions. The trouble with this is that we are leading with our lack and fear of lack rather than holding out for the gold star. That adage about "good things happen to those who wait" is totally true. So what, you have to pull a few extra hours on the floor working along side your staff (they appreciate it if you're maintaining positive mental health), waiting for the perfect candidate?! It's worth it all around! And your staff will enjoy coming to work even more knowing you sacrificed by being in the trenches with them, rather than hiring the first person who applied.