9 Tips for Reducing Workplace Stress & Lowering Workers Comp Claims

Posted on: August 17th, 2011 by Leaders' Choice Staff No Comments

stress reliefAnnual work-related stress claims cost U.S. companies $200 billion to $300 billion a year, according to the American Institute of Stress. 

Stress can result in a number of secondary mental and physical ill- nesses and direct physical injuries, which directly affect health care costs, worker productivity and can even result in workers’ comp claims.

In fact, workers’ comp claims resulting from job-related stress last about four times longer, at an average of 23 days, than the average days lost from all nonfatal occupational illnesses and injuries combined, ac- cording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And a study published by The Journal of Occupational and Environ- mental Medicine suggested health care administering costs were twice as high for workers claiming job-related stress.

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety defines work-related stress as emotional and harmful responses occurring when job requirements don’t match a worker’s resources, needs or capabilities.

Some employers still don’t take work-related stress very seriously, but based on the numbers, the consequences and the costs for ignoring the issue, you would be wise to do so.

To combat the effects of work-related stress, you need to know what causes it in the first place.

There are a number of factors that cause stress in the workplace, but the most common, according to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, are:

  •     Poorly designed jobs and tasks from heavy workloads; shift work; long working hours; too few or too short rest and meal breaks; and tasks that don’t have inherent meaning, that don’t utilize the worker’s skills or that don’t give the employee a sense of control.
  •     Job roles, expectations and responsibilities that are too broadly defined, vague, conflicting or unclear.
  •     Poor management skills, including inadequate communications skills, lack of encouragement or incentives to participate in decision making.
  •     Career concerns, including few opportunities for advancement or a lack of job security.
  •     Poor workplace conditions, including inadequate ergonomics, air pollution, noise or even dangerous or unpleasant working environments.

If you are able to pinpoint the causes of stress in the workplace you can take steps to reduce those factors. Here are nine ways you can reduce stress among your staff:

  1. Improve communications. Try to get your employees involved
    and let them know they are valued. Ask them for feedback and input on company plans, processes and management decisions.
  2. Give staff more sense of control. Within responsible and reason- able limits, you should give employees independence in the day-to-day operations of their job. Let them think outside of the box and they may innovate and find a way to do their jobs better and more efficiently.
  3. Create an open forum. Employees should be free to express their frustrations, concerns, and complaints without fear of retaliation from management or supervisory staff.
  4. Keep employees in the know. Uncertainty can be eliminated by simply apprising employees about upcoming changes and what these changes will mean for them.
  5. Reduce any excessive workloads. Don’t overload your employees beyond their abilities. Try to spread out workloads and don’t pile on too many projects at a time on one person. .
  6. Clearly define job descriptions. You should make sure that all employ- ees have a thorough understanding of their roles in the company and the responsibilities of their position.
  7. Create realistic schedules. Be as flexible and approachable as pos- sible if a staff member needs to take time for a doctor’s appointment or has a sick child. Remember that all of your employees have a life and demands outside of work.
  8. Play to your employees’ skills. A job should stimulate employees, challenge them and require as many of their skills as possible. Give your staff opportunities like advancement and cross-training if they show the desire to bring more value to their jobs and your organization.
  9. All work and no play… Make sure you allow staff to let loose once in a while by organizing company picnics, parties or team sports like a softball league.

Above all else, in order to keep your workers compensation claims low, practice these tips for happier, more productive employees!

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