Excessive stress is a major problem for the American working population.
A little bit of stress is okay—it keeps people moving forward and focused on their goals. But too much stress can lead to trouble sleeping and eating, heart problems, disengagement, and immune deficiencies.
If you notice your employees are overwhelmed and stressed, it’s worth your time to alleviate their pain. Otherwise, it might cost your company some productivity—especially if it starts to spread throughout your team.
Three Ways to Approach an Employee Who is Visibly Overwhelmed and Stressed
Listen and Empathize
Be kind and offer to hear all about your employee’s woes. Sometimes simply the act of explaining themselves and venting their frustrations can help to take some of the load off. Just let them know that you’ve noticed their distress and you want to help. Be an active listener—give them your undivided attention, maintain eye contact and repeat what they’ve said so they can see that you understand. Do your best to make them feel heard and validated.
Find the Cause of the Stress
Sure, it might just be that they’re overwhelmed with an increased workload, but what’s making that workload happen? It might be because you recently downsized or restructured your team and maybe duties were reassigned unfairly. Or it might be that there’s some interpersonal drama happening. This might be coworkers who aren’t getting along or finding a way to collaborate and complete projects. Or it could be that there are some personal issues that are spilling over into work—divorce, illness, a new baby, a stressful move. There are endless possibilities for the root causes of the stress, but once you can identify it, you can help to problem solve and suggest practical solutions.
Help Minimize the Stressor
When you start to help problem solve, be careful that you don’t sound judgmental or condescending. Otherwise, how you help them will depend on the reason for their excessive stress. If they have too much to do, help them prioritize importance and urgency. Which assignments need to be done within the hour? By the end of the day? By the end of the week? If they’re stressed because they don’t know what they should be doing to be successful, they might just need a pep talk and a gentle nudge in a certain direction. Boost their confidence and help them outline a starting strategy.
If it’s an interpersonal conflict with a coworker that’s the root of the problem, you might be able to help them untangle that mess. You might be the third party who can keep them apart or mediate any misunderstanding.
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