Recruitment: 10 steps to creating a lower-stress work environment

Beef Central, 06/12/2013


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DOES your workplace stress you out? We’re not talking about your everyday tasks, projects and deadlines; but rather the physical environment.

The air-conditioning in the Toyota doesn’t work, and its 38 degrees outside. The desk you sit at could be too messy, or your colleagues are too loud. Perhaps your boss is always looking over your shoulder. The new piece of technology you’re given to work with gives you anxiety.

Whatever the culprit, there’s a good chance it’s affecting your attitude and performance.

There are several steps that can be taken to lower the stress levels of your workplace and cut down on the risk of stress-related health issues. Such steps can reduce employees' stress, and save a business money at the same time. While some of the examples below are related to office-based work environments, the principles remain the same across all workplaces.

A few techniques to consider include:

Add personal touches.

If your workspace stresses you out, it might help to add personal items to your desk, cubicle or workplace that have some special meaning to you.  These could be photographs, inspiring artwork, books or a decorative accessory in your favourite colour.

Keep your workspace clean and organised.

If your office or workspace is cluttered or disorganised, you may waste valuable time searching for papers and phone numbers, or you could miss important deadlines. For many people, it’s difficult to focus when their desk is filled with papers, phone messages, business cards, magazines and newsletters, especially when the layers are inches high.

Learn to handle or ignore interruptions.

You may have a colleague who constantly stops by your desk to chat or you sit near a noisy piece of equipment. If you make an effort to learn how to properly handle these interruptions and ignore distractions in the workplace, you could significantly decrease your level of stress.

Adapt to changes.

Does change make you anxious? If your workplace sees a lot of turnover, physical changes (such as in office layout), or new software or technology (printers, computers, etc), you should learn to adapt quickly.

Better communication.

Poor communication often causes confusion (and therefore, stress) in the workplace. If those around you aren’t communicating well, ask questions, make suggestions and do whatever else you can to improve the situation. Make sure your workforce is kept updated on business news that may affect their jobs. If they don't have to guess and speculate, they'll be less likely stress over imagined worst-case scenarios.

Incorporate exercises into your work day.

Assuming you're working in a non-physical line of wortk, if you’re allowed to, and it doesn’t distract anyone around you, it’s worth considering some stretches or occasionally going for a walk. You won’t be able to get rid of everything that contributes to stress in the workplace—but the fresh air won’t do any harm.

Research shows that a little exercise, even briefly, can be as effective in increasing happiness as anti-depression medication and can build camaraderie amongst staff.


You might not realise that things like lighting, colours and décor are causing you stress—but it’s possible. Try changing the posters on your office wall or desk accessories, if possible. Neutral tones tend to be calming, yellows promote intellectual activity while blues and greens are more restful.

Provide space

When you allow your employees to take a time out, it re-boots productivity. You could provide a common room as a place for staff to get away from their computers, have lunch or sit down for a cup of coffee. Have daily newspapers, and trade journals/magazines for staff to engage in also.

Assign an employee advocate

If your business does not have a human resources manager, it is really important to find someone who can continuously get feedback from employees and see what is going-on, and if there are any problems or issues that need addressing.

AWX director, Cameron Dart, says creating a stress-free working area not only promotes a healthier workforce but helps to retain top-notch talent that otherwise think of leaving due to a sub-optimal workplace environment.


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