The Secret To Managing Employee Stress

The Secret To Managing Employee Stress

Rise and shine. Kiss the kids and your partner. Feed the dog. Grab breakfast and head out the door. Jump in the car, on the bus, or subway. The sun is rising. It’s a new day. The work day is spread out before you.

Sounds wonderful, but sometimes it’s not.

When we go to work we take along an invisible backpack containing the worries of our family life (perhaps the child who didn’t sleep, the spouse who is unhappy, or the recently diagnosed mother), and a load of our own anxieties and concerns. The backpack is heavy, made heavier so by the pressures of our jobs. When we experience unhealthy amounts of stress, we physically are not at our best. Sleep is often interrupted, as is healthy eating, and good habits such as exercise. We also often self-medicate with medications or alcohol.

We all experience stress. Some stress, called eustress, is healthy. Eustress is motivating. It helps us get off the couch, get to work on time, get the report completed, or apply for the promotion. However, when we tip into distress, stress becomes unhealthy and unproductive.

It is usually pretty easy to identify an employee in distress. He or she may be anxious, moody, or unusually irritable. Why? It’s actually a physical reaction: When in distress we are only able to access a small section of our brain, the amygdala, the center for fight or flight response. When in this state, the manager’s brain cannot distinguish between real and perceived threats. This often gets in the way of relationships with colleagues. Conversations that could be collaborative negotiations instead end unproductively and harm the development of trust.

Constructive feedback is a great first step to providing assistance. Acknowledging the great work that your manager regularly produces, and that there has been a shift.

Here’s some sample dialogue that may help: “John, I hope you know how much you are valued at our firm. You are a key member of the team and we rely on your expertise. However, I’m worried about you. I noticed how you responded to Cindy in the meeting. I know her question was a bit off topic, but typically that would not have bothered you. I am wondering if there is something going on that you might be willing to share with me.”

If your manager is depressed or his/her anxiety is debilitating it may be time to refer the manager to the company’s EAP [Employee Assistance Program] or directly to a therapist for help. However, there may be other options. Executive coaching, with a qualified accredited coach, can provide objective feedback through validated diagnostics such as a 360 instrument, and one-one-one sessions to help the manager move forward towards more effective behaviors.

Katie Riker Sternberg, ACC, MSW, LMSW, MBA

About the Author: Katie Riker Sternberg, ACC, MSW, LMSW, MBA, is the Founder of Momentum Executive and Personal Coaching, LLC. Katie’s 25 years of experience is a blend of senior marketing leadership, entrepreneurship, independent consulting to business leaders, individual counseling and executive coaching. You can follow Katie on Facebook to keep up with her latest posts.

For more information on how Highflyer HR can provide you and your company with effective stress management solutions, contact us today!

5 Simple Ways To Improve Employee Onboarding

5 Simple Ways To Improve Employee Onboarding

An employee’s days and weeks at work can be stressful, chaotic, and overwhelming—and then there’s the new hire.Strike a confident, considerate tone by creating an employee onboarding process that is personal and positive without making it complicated. It should answer, in short order, the four main questions all new employees have:

  • Who is my boss?
  • What are my main responsibilities?
  • Where are the breakroom and restrooms?
  • Where can I put my coat?

While simple, how well your company addresses these “basic needs” questions will set the tone for how you operate throughout your new hire’s entire career. The point of a solid onboarding process is to increase employee engagement, loyalty, and tenure; without it, you’ll sink more time, energy, and money into the repeated training of new hires than you will other crucial aspects of your business—and that rarely works out well.

Here are five simple ways to make a positive impact on a new employee.

1) Make them feel at home

Your new hire should feel like they have a spot they can claim, whether it’s a physical desk or office or a place they can count on to place their coat, lunch, and personal items. It should be clean and posted with their name as if they were always meant to be there.

2) Get them connected

All technology set-up should be completed before the employee’s first day; nothing makes a new hire feel out of place than having things referred to as “John’s old laptop” or “Patrice’s extension.” All laptops, emails, peripherals, permissions, and phones should be ready for the new hire prior to her first day on the job; this makes training, troubleshooting, and everyone’s first week a little easier.

3) Give them a tour

Your new hire’s first day started with finding a parking spot in a new place; it will take him a while to get the lay of the land. Unless you show him, of course, which is exactly what you should do. Don’t just show him the break rooms and restrooms; introduce him to people as you go, especially the people with whom he’ll be working closely. Before you part ways, give him a map that is labeled with everything (and everyone) you covered.

4) Simplify the paperwork process

We can all remember our first days at work as we filled out form after form with the same repeated information. Benefits, taxes, job description, handbooks—more paper gets pushed at new hires on the first day than almost every day following. Streamline this process as much as possible with intuitive Human Resources software that allows cross-referencing, cross-checking, and no crossed eyes.

5) Swag is always a good idea

Go as crazy or as practical as you please here; even fresh office supplies bundled with a company t-shirt can go a long way to showing a new employee that you are bringing your A-game to the table, and that you are expecting the same from her.

And remember, onboarding isn’t just a one-day thing. Create schedules and strategies for follow-up, check-ins, and team meetings. Concerns and accomplishments in this period should be addressed quickly; it demonstrates awareness, responsiveness, and accountability, and lays the groundwork for employee success and satisfaction.

Five Warning Signs That Your HR Department Needs Support

Five Warning Signs That Your HR Department Needs Support

Growing and thriving businesses can’t continue to grow and thrive without additional resources or efficient processes, and that’s where an effective human resource department comes in.

If you can’t afford to hire an additional full-time HR professional on your team, it may be time to consider outsourcing certain human resource functions; not only will you gain the benefits of experienced, efficient operations, but you’ll also free your time and budget to channel your attention where it belongs—back on growing your business.

If any or all of the below ring true for you and your business, it may be time to outsource certain HR functions.

1. When HR tasks are taking an excessive amount of time.

When you are tackling human resource tasks on top of running a business, things are bound to take longer; after all, there are so many hours in a day, and you don’t speak employment law and best hiring practices as a first (or even fourth) language. Enlisting the help of a professional HR workflow consultant means that you have someone well-versed in their industry, and all they have to do is apply it to yours.

2. When human resources are spread too thin.

It often happens as a business grows; HR tasks are often delegated and dispersed among a team of managers and department heads. While this can ensure the responsibilities get done, it can often lead to inconsistency and confusion as employees aren’t sure where to direct questions or report concerns. Having consistent human resources processes, either in-house or outsourced, help clarify job responsibilities and the chain of command. It also helps ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

3. When it’s taking away from your bottom line.

Effective human resources should add value to your bottom line, not take away from it. Outsourcing certain HR functions means you have qualified professionals well-versed in employment law, recruiting techniques, payroll, and benefits management. It means you can trust the job to get done right the first time, minimizing your risks while maximizing your time spent growing revenue, networks, and lead sources.

4. When the human resources department becomes too risky.

The bigger you grow, the more responsible—and accountable—you need to be. From new EEOC requirements to mandatory state and federal compliance, a skilled HR, Benefits and Tax professional has a keen understanding of liability landmines and IRS risks. Considering the cost of one tax reporting violation, one year of outsourced Payroll Tax compliance is a worthwhile investment that carries so many other related benefits.

5. When it’s making your business clumsy.

When your business was small and nimble, you could adjust to change rather quickly, but as it grows, it becomes harder and harder to prepare for growth, challenges, and the occasional rare opportunity. If given a chance to expand rapidly, could your current HR systems handle a massive hiring spree and still be effective?

If you’ve been handling human resources on your own or ineffectively delegated them throughout your untrained staff, now is the best time to have an HR Assessment by Highflyer HR. It’s not too good to be true; it’s just smart business. Don’t just get more things done. Get them all done—correctly, professionally, and efficiently.