Employees Tell Us How They Think Workplaces Could Reduce Stress

July 24, 2019


Work Safety


Ella Donald

In these days of hyper connectivity, where technology means we are reachable at any hour, it’s easy to feel the pressure at work — whether inching towards the email inbox late at night, or grinding on a project on the weekends.

Research quoted by Lifeline says that 90% of Australians need to stress less, with 74% reporting being stressed from work, a phenomenon that can have adverse effects on people of all ages.

To mark Stress Down Day (July 24), we reached out to our Facebook audience, asking how their workplaces would be more employee-friendly.

“Stress Down Day provides a great opportunity for workplaces to realise the importance of ensuring an environment that prioritises the wellbeing of employees. It’s a fun take on a serious issue with the bonus of doing something good for our community. ” — Anna Brooks, National Manager Lifeline Research Foundation.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

We’ve all been on the giving or receiving end of a tirade after a small blunder, where tempers flare something insignificant out of proportion, leaving us hesitant to try again.

“Stop humiliating people when they make simple errors,” Greg C says. “The stress of failure actually causes damage to highly capable people. We all make mistakes, yet employers in Australia just love making others look and feel inferior. It's a horrible side to Australian culture.”

Stressed out worker in hard hat with hands on head
The stress of failure can cause damage to highly capable people. Photo: iStock

2. One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel

…And sometimes, that comes from the highest ranks of the company.

“Stop promoting leaders that carry the bottom line and start hiring enablers that look at the bigger picture,” Reuben M G said. “Stop derailing your innovators in favour of your supplicants. I've worked for many big firms and find the narcissism of your high achievers needs to be balanced with practical, enabled people.”

"How to prevent this? Repeated, continual, ongoing, relentless training of Managers in empathy, respect, concern, care and a LOVE OUT LOUD attitude.” — Pete J.

3. Work smarter, not more

The four day working week is catching-fire in the corporate world, with proven results — when New Zealand-based wills, trusts, and estates company Perpetual Guardian introduced the practice in early 2018, they reported that work-life balance improved from 54% to 78%, and staff stress levels dropped from 45% to 38%.

According to Poutama H, this approach to mindfulness could also be echoed in the availability of various services being available, that encourage employees to switch off — including “Free exercise classes/PT/yoga”.

“Giving employees the ability to discuss mental health issues that are (or may be) affecting then personally and professionally with people who can help them work with it through these issues, and also by realising that people are complicated,” Rav H T said.

Office worker with coffee
Employees benefit personally and professionally from open communication regarding mental health. Photo: iStock

4. Use your voice

Any working Australian could name an instance where expectations or instructions weren’t communicated properly, leading to raised voices, wasted hours, and hurt feelings. Better communication leads to a more productive and happy workforce, well-informed of their tasks.

“Give employees a written list of instructions for the day, in order and attention to detail,” Ben K said. “Keep a positive working dialogue with management and their staff on all relevant work -related matters,” Shaun G said.

And when everything doesn’t go to plan? Refer to point #1. “People are all affected by different levels of stress, which can be reduced by letting them draw into their own safe space,” Ben K continues.

“Do what they say they are going to do. It’s pointless writing procedures and plans for how to operate in the company if no one does what they say we should.” — Mohammed B.

5. Man, not machine

It’s simple, but something that is easily forgotten in the face of tightening budgets, deadlines over the holiday season, diminishing teams, and setbacks — employees are human, with personal lives and stressors outside the workplace, and work doesn’t need to be another item on the teetering pile.

“Managers, kill your egos and delusional sense of self importance,” Kathleen M said. “Do not condescend your staff, treat them with respect, acknowledge them as humans, not as solely workers. Then, see the change in overall productivity and work environment atmosphere will make a 180 and ALL will feel less stressed-out.”

“Show appreciation to your workers,” said Carlos J. If we’re going to remember one thing this Stress Down Day, perhaps it should be that.

Ella Donald

Ella is a Brisbane based writer for Smith's Lawyers who has written for many noteworthy publications including Vanity Fair, CNN, GQ Middle East, The Guardian, Fairfax, and The Saturday Paper. She covers topics such as entertainment and arts, sport, fashion, food, social and cultural issues, health and beauty, technology, law and travel. She also teaches at the University of Queensland in the School of Communication and Arts.