Ask Dr. Katharina Koch: Frequently asked questions around stress at work

Everything you need to know about work, mental health, and HR – from an expert. Join us in our series with Dr. Katharina Koch, a Clinical Psychologist certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Head of Psychology here at nilo.health. In this edition Katharina will answer frequently asked questions about stress at the workplace.

Ask Dr. Katharina Koch

How can managers spot signs of stress within their teams?

As a manager you can spot stress within your team by observing various indicators. But remember that changes in behaviors can have a multitude of reasons.

  • Changes in Performance: A sudden drop in productivity or quality of work can be a sign of stress.
  • Increased Absenteeism: Frequent absences may indicate an employee is struggling to cope.
  • Changes in Behavior: Irritability, withdrawal, or changes in social behavior can be stress indicators.
  • Physical Symptoms: Complaints of headaches, fatigue, or other physical symptoms could be related to stress.

How can companies build a culture that avoids stress at work?

Creating a company culture that proactively mitigates stress is essential for fostering employee well-being and productivity. Here’s a strategic approach to achieving this:

  • Promote a Positive Work Environment: Cultivate a workplace where diversity, inclusion, and support are not just buzzwords but integral parts of the culture. Encourage open communication, collaboration, and empathy among team members.
  • Offer Flexibility: Recognize the importance of work-life balance by providing flexible working arrangements. This could include options for remote work, flexible hours, or compressed work weeks, allowing employees to better manage their personal and professional lives.
  • Provide Clear Expectations: Ambiguity and uncertainty can breed stress. Ensure that roles, responsibilities, and expectations are clearly communicated to all employees. This clarity helps alleviate anxiety and empowers individuals to perform their best.
  • Train Your Leadership: Invest in ongoing training for managers to equip them with the skills needed to support their teams effectively. Offer training programs focused on stress management, conflict resolution, and fostering psychological safety. Well-trained leaders can identify signs of stress early on and create an environment where employees feel valued and supported.

How can leaders help employees cope with stress?

Leaders play a pivotal role in helping employees cope with stress effectively. Here’s how they can contribute to creating a supportive environment:

  • Encourage Open Communication: Foster an environment where open dialogue about stress is welcomed. Encourage team members to express their concerns and seek support when needed without fear of judgment.
  • Provide Resources: Ensure access to mental health resources such as counseling services or workshops on stress management techniques. Equipping employees with the tools they need to manage stress effectively is crucial.
  • Promote Work-Life Balance: Advocate for work-life balance by encouraging employees to take regular breaks, respect their off-hours, and utilize their vacation time. Balancing work and personal life helps prevent burnout and promotes overall well-being.
  • Lead by Example: Lead by demonstrating healthy work-life balance practices and stress management techniques yourself. When leaders prioritize their well-being, they set a positive example for employees to emulate.
  • Clarify Expectations and Roles: Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations to minimize ambiguity and reduce unnecessary stress. Employees perform better when they know what is expected of them.
  • Recognize and Appreciate Contributions: Regularly acknowledge and appreciate employees’ hard work and contributions. Recognition boosts morale, fosters a sense of belonging, and reduces stress and burnout.

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