We’re seeing a major issue with work-related stress across the country. According to the American Institute of Stress, 25% of U.S. workers say their job is the number one stressor in their lives. That kind of daily stress can lead to both personal and professional issues, including a lack of productivity, and an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and burnout.
As a project manager, it’s essential to come up with effective tactics and strategies that can reduce work-related stress.
By taking the time to show your team you care about their well-being, you’ll create a better work environment that boosts motivation and productivity while improving the mental health of your workers at the same time.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the most effective tactics you can put into practice right away.
Time Management and Prioritization
Time management can be a big problem and a major source of stress for employees. In today’s busy society, it’s not uncommon for the average worker to have so much on their plate that they become overwhelmed. That often leads to a lack of productivity and motivation, but they might simply not know how to exercise the mental muscle of time management.
Time management is a soft skill that is beneficial for everyone to possess, but it doesn’t come to everyone naturally. Thankfully, you can create a more efficient work environment by encouraging and “training” your employees to manage their time effectively. Implement some of the following exercises and ideas into your training process, and set up reminders around the workplace to keep your employees on track:
Telling them to look at how they spend their time each day;
Creating daily schedules;
Encouraging prioritizing important tasks first;
Setting boundaries and limits.
As a project manager, you don’t have control over everything your team is tackling each day, but you can keep them on task with your specific project, and help them prioritize what’s important first so everyone gets their tasks done in a timely fashion without feeling overwhelmed by them. You even can lend a hand, when it’s appropriate, to help anyone that might be feeling overwhelmed by specific tasks. Don’t be afraid to help with those tasks from time to time to make sure your team knows you’re just as invested in the project as they are.
Maybe you have highly-motivated workers who are as productive as they can be, but your project’s processes are holding things up. Sometimes, it’s not human error that contributes to work-related stress. Rather, it’s technology — or a lack thereof.
In projects from marketing to product development, optimization is an important key to reducing stress and ensuring everything is running smoothly. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools and tech resources that can make that possible. For example, today’s businesses can utilize tools like AI or the metaverse to improve processes. Using the metaverse in product development allows your team to test new ideas virtually. Each product can go through quality assurance multiple times without having to create multiple copies and waste money. It increases the stringency of testing without the fear of having to start over.
You can also utilize project management software to keep everyone on the same page. If you want your team to be efficient, effective, and stress-free, choosing the right tools is important. ZenTao software can help to increase productivity, break down tasks to make time management easier, and track progress quickly.
Organization is a huge part of project optimization, and having the right software to keep everything in one convenient location will reduce confusion and stress. Plus, it can be used from anywhere, so even your remote workers can stay in the loop with ongoing projects. Whatever software you choose, make sure it’s easily accessible for everyone and encourages active communication between your team members.
Encouraging Open Communication
Sometimes, the work itself doesn’t cause employees to feel overwhelmed or stressed. Rather, it’s the workplace environment.
Some of the negative effects of a draining work environment include:
It’s essential to look at your current work environment as well as your team members to determine if there is unnecessary stress or toxicity. Is your team being micromanaged? Are you setting clear boundaries? Are your expectations too high? Or, are you giving them tasks they aren’t familiar with and leaving them with a lack of support?
One of the best ways to combat a toxic team environment is to encourage open communication as much as possible. Talk to your team every day. Check in with them individually and collectively to see where you are in terms of progress. During those check-ins, you can also ask for feedback, and let your team know they can reach you at any time if they’re struggling.
Most importantly, pay attention. Not everyone will feel comfortable opening up or sharing their stressors, but if you notice that productivity is slipping or certain employees seem overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to step in and find out what you can do to help.
In addition to establishing an environment of healthy communication, encourage your team to take part in de-stressing practices both at work and at home. Things like group activities/outings and offering small rewards to your team are great ways to reduce stress and boost motivation, but simple activities like deep breathing, exercising, and meditation are also incredibly effective ways they can take care of themselves at home.
While you can’t always monitor what your team is doing on their own time, you canensure that they’re striking a healthy work-life balance. Set realistic working hours for them, encourage breaks, and let them know that their personal lives matter. When your team understands that you want them to prioritize their mental well-being, they ’ll be more likely to take those encouragements seriously and practice self-care at home.
Project deadlines can be stressful, no matter what. However, as a leader, it’s essential to make sure your team isn’t overwhelmed by having their noses to the grindstone every minute of the day. Pay attention to the well-being of your workers, and keep these tips in mind to reduce work-related stress.