By Amanda Winstead
As a project manager, you’re responsible for more than just making sure deadlines are reached and everyone on a team is pulling their weight. Being able to manage and mitigate stress within your team should be a top priority.
Project management covers many different individual roles, and you undoubtedly wear plenty of hats. But, you can’t effectively plan, manage, or execute projects without engaging your team members. So, how can you do that without causing a lot of pressure and stress?
Let’s take a closer look at your role in reducing team stress, and why helping to reduce it is so important for the overall well-being of your team and the success of your project(s) and brand.
The Risks of Chronic Stress
You might assume that stress is normal in the workplace. That’s the problem — it is. One study found that 25% of American workers view their jobs as their number one source of stress. While not all stress is avoidable, trying to mitigate it as much as possible, especially in a team setting, is essential for the well-being of your employees and your business.
Chronic stress comes with many risks and potential problems. From a health and wellness standpoint, stress can contribute to mental health issues like anxiety or depression. It can also worsen existing health conditions, including:
● Cardiovascular disease;
● Gastrointestinal diseases.
In terms of how stressed employees can impact your business, chronic stress often leads to burnout. An employee who is overwhelmed with the stress of work is going to be less motivated and might take more personal or sick days simply so they can manage their mental well-being. Because of this, stressed employees tend to be less productive. A stressed team can quickly lead to a toxic work environment. Not only will that reduce employee retention, but it can make it harder to attract top talent in the future.
Making Positive Changes
When you’re in a leadership role and you’re in charge of the well-being of other employees, that’s not something to be taken lightly. Whether you’re working with a new team on every project or you’re managing a consistent group of employees, there are things you can do in the workplace to prioritize self-care and stress reduction.
Some of the best ways to support mental health in the workplace include opening communication and making it easier for people to talk about how they’re feeling. Using communication helps to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health and can help your team feel more comfortable coming to you with personal issues if they’re struggling.
Additionally, choose to foster a workplace environment that promotes the well-being of everyone. That might include things like:
● Flexible schedules;
● Access to resources that can help with stress and mental health;
● A meditation room;
● Mindfulness training.
Encourage your team to take breaks. Encourage them to take time off. It might seem counterproductive, at first, but you’ll be surprised by how much more productive a team can be when they aren’t bogged down by stress and the effects that often come with it.
Be sure to include remote workers in your wellness initiatives. While a remote work environment might not seem stressful, it can be isolating and can make people feel like they’re somehow disconnected from the rest of the team. You can help to mitigate that by providing consistent support, encouraging communication, and subsidizing wellness activities for your remote workers, including things like yoga classes.
Prioritizing Mental Health
Speaking of subsidizing activities, it’s just as important to prioritize the mental health of your team outside of the office as it is when they’re at work. Obviously, you can’t control what your employees do on their own time, but you can encourage them to take full advantage of that time.
Promote a healthy work-life balance by offering flexible schedules and offering necessary support on specific tasks. Delegate project roles according to skill level, but also consider who might have more time to work on things without feeling overwhelmed.
The more you get to know your team, the easier it will be to consider their concerns so you can create a wellness program that fits everyone’s needs — even your remote staff. Simply having a wellness program in place can show your team that you care about their well-being. That often opens a door to make them comfortable opening up about stress and mental health, and it can completely change the environment of the workplace for the better.
You might not be able to completely eliminate stress from the workplace or take away all of the pressure that comes with large projects and approaching deadlines. But, as a project manager, you can develop a better understanding of how stress could be impacting your team, and find effective ways to prioritize wellness in and out of the workplace. Not only will the health of your team likely improve, but you’ll foster a better culture, a more unified team, and greater productivity from everyone involved.