Occupational stress is a growing problem in facilities and maintenance management, as in many other industries (it would certainly be easier to list those where stress isn’t a problem, than the opposite), and it’s often associated with health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, depression or even memory loss, which — let’s be honest — isn’t optimal for a facility manager’s performance on the job.
A stress-free work environment is therefore essential for maintaining your physical and psychological well-being, as well as to improve the performance of the whole team. But what exactly can you do to achieve this?
First, we need to see what’s likely causing stress in your workplace:
- Excess workload — the first thing that comes to mind is the excess workload, which often reflects improper allocation of work across the team, or the use of suboptimal work methods or tools;
- Bad communication — when communication between managers, technicians, contractors and clients (or anyone else involved in a given project, really!) isn’t clear and consistent, stress will show up on your doorstep;
- Lack of rest — it’s not infrequent for the managers to need to answer calls or plan schedules after their regular working hours or at the weekends, which means they’re actually never off the clock, even when they technically are;
- Lots of other stuff — the pressure on your shoulders, multitasking, negativity in the workplace, a boring office… there’s so much causing you stress that we’d need a full ebook and an appendix just to list all the possible causes.
So, how do you kick the stress out of your workplace? Here are our 10 tips:
1. Rest properly
Regular breaks from work during the day, as well as making sure you have enough — but not too much! — sleep every night, will do wonders for your physical and mental health. If everyone on the team comes to work properly rested, everyone will be more productive and happier, both individually and as a team.
2. Improve communication
As we’ve said before, bad communication is one of the best ways to make sure everyone breathes stress, if that’s your goal.
If it isn’t, it’s important that everyone works to simplify how the team communicates and to optimize the chain of communication. Having Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) with integrated mobile apps will greatly improve communication — both in terms of quality and time — between managers and technicians.
3. Exercise and eat well
Not only applicable to occupational stress, but to all kinds of stress in general, maintaining good habits in terms of physical activity and healthy eating — which can be a challenge for those who have lunch at the workplace — is important to minimise the effects of a potentially stressful workplace.
4. Avoid negativity and the “Chain of Screaming”
Is your workplace one of those where the CEO screams at the manager, the manager screams at the assistant, the assistant screams at the technicians, and the technicians scream among themselves, or at the dog (who would also scream if it could)?
This “Chain of Screaming” — actually a theory proposed in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother —, or anything that could even slightly resemble it, is extremely dangerous for the workers’ mental health and should definitely be avoided if you want to reduce stress.
5. Automate maintenance schedules
We swear we’re not trying to sell anything right now, but once again, having a CMMS to automate maintenance schedules — and other things, such as work orders and reports — will significantly reduce the managers’ workload, allowing them to follow tip number 1 — rest properly.
Scheduling preventive maintenance schedules in advance, for example, will reduce the number of unexpected failures in important equipment, keeping everyone’s mind more at ease.
6. Make your workspace pleasant
Believe it or not, a lot of stress comes from the monotony and lifelessness of office spaces. It’s important that people feel comfortable in the workplace, so try to make it look natural and pleasant and make sure the indoor air quality is great. All of this will help everyone be calmer and focused.
7. Make room for flexibility
Schedules that are 100% fixed, allowing no flexibility for unexpected situations, increase employees’ stress levels significantly. An accommodating environment will make everyone feel more comfortable and committed to the workplace, instead of dreading it.
8. Allocate work properly
As we’ve also mentioned above, excess workloads are one of the main causes of stress. Proper allocation of work among the team is essential and, once again, a maintenance management system is likely the way to go.
A CMMS allows managers to be more aware of the workload assigned to each technician, avoiding those situations where an employee has to do the work of two, while others don’t have much to do.
9. Recognize and reward good work
Instead of just criticizing mistakes and treating good work like business as usual, why not show appreciation for team members’ effort and work well done? Rewards, such as public recognition of the employee at meetings, are a sure way to keep everyone motivated and less stressed, as long as you don’t turn it into a competition among the team. That will likely do the opposite.
10. Have fun!
Team members that interact socially will work better together, increasing the productivity of the whole team. Create traditions at the workplace, lead initiatives to meet up after work, celebrate important dates. Having fun at work is one of the best ways to increase employee motivation and happiness, therefore reducing stress for everyone.