SOUTH African business owners are among the most stressed in the world. But there are often simple techniques one can use to make the workplace a more relaxed place.
Often the most damaging stress is that which business owners place upon their employees. Industrial psychologist Norma Colley (pictured above) says many businesses in SA drive their employees to the point of burn out.
Explains Colley: “If employees see that people who are promoted work long hours and do not take lunch breaks, it will set a standard of what is acceptable, even if they are entitled to breaks and going home at 5pm. This will discourage people who value family to work for such companies.”
She says employees are more productive and loyal if their personal lives are also valued. “Small gestures, such as a coffee machine and insisting that people take lunch breaks, do make people feel valued,” says Colley.
She says relationships at work are key. Any destructive conflict should always be addressed. “Employees should be encouraged to talk to one another when they have problems with each other. Fun should be encouraged and, very importantly, good performance must be acknowledged.”
She says the most frequent complaint of SA workers is that they get feedback when they do something wrong, but no feedback when they do something right.
“Rewards need to be fair though and can be anything from a simple ‘thank you’ to supper vouchers or an increase or promotion.”
Judy Jaye, project development manager of the Voice and Stress Clinic, says to avoid burn out business owners should choose their battles when it comes to stressing about something with their employees.
She says they should ask themselves whether a particular battle will still count in five days or five years time.
She says the way to overcome stress in the workplace is to plan or to use excellent communication if you’re delegating responsibility for a task to someone else.
Business owners should also look to find a balance by taking breaks while they’re working, even if it’s just to walk outside.
Another way to create a less stressful environment is to surround yourself with beautiful things – you can do this even by placing pictures of your family on your desk.
Colley recommends business owners to use gentle colours such as yellow or cream to decorate their workplace as this will encourage a harmonious environment.
She says while it’s essential to have private meeting rooms in the workplace, open-plan offices are best to accommodate your employees and to encourage teamwork.
Contact Colley on 021 554 4529 and the Voice and Stress Clinic on 011 880 2334.