Workplace stress is not a new concept for employers to manage
However, with the pandemic and related concerns such as short-staffing, work requirement changes plus personal stress factors, it’s never been more vital for pharmacy managers and owners to address. Learning how to identify stressors as well as how to help your staff reduce the impact of those will go a long way toward increasing employee satisfaction, retention, and a positive work environment within your pharmacy.
First, let’s look at some of the top contributing factors to workplace stress. According to the American Psychological Association, some common workplace stressors include:
- Overwhelming workloads
- Limited chances to advance
- Inadequate social support within the workplace
- Feelings of being out of control of decisions related to the job
- Performance expectations that are inconsistent or unclear
As you consider your pharmacy staff and the roles they serve within your business, can you identify any of these areas where your staff might struggle with stress? You may not be able to address all sources, but if you are able to identify a specific problem and provide an answer, it may help to lower the stress of your employees and improve morale. By providing much needed support, you can proactively minimize the stress levels in your work environment.
Based on that, a few simple ways you may be able to minimize the underlying stressors are:
Hiring additional staff: though this sounds simple, we know that it isn’t always in your budget or even if it is, that you’ll be able to find the right new folks for your team.
Involving your staff in more of the decisions that might affect their role: even if not involved in the actual decision making, understanding why you are making specific choices can help remove fear, frustration or concerns.
Offering clear performance objectives with easily attainable and measurable benchmarks: help employees feel successful and know when they’re accomplishing their goals within their roles. Clarity can help remove doubt, fear, and frustration.
What happens when work-related stress goes unchecked? Well, unfortunately, the employee is unable to leave their workplace stress within the workplace; they carry their stress home with them and it can spill over into every aspect of life, having a direct effect on the employee’s overall health. According to the CDC, stressful workplace situations compounded with outside stressors on the employee can lead to a greater risk of injury or illness. This not only impacts employee morale and performance, but can be costly to your team as it can lead to further short-staffing concerns. Fortunately, through proactive stress management measures, many of these concerns can be minimized or eliminated.
Since we know that workplace stress can be a challenge to your pharmacy team, how can you as a pharmacy manager address these concerns, work toward lessening stress for your employees, and proactively encourage healthy stress management within your workplace?
Here are 5 ways to lower the stress load in your workplace and help strengthen the mental health of your staff, based on studies from OSHA:
1. Model empathy to your workplace. When you humanize your role as management and relate to your staff through empathy, they’ll know that they are cared for as an individual, and in turn, this has a direct effect on employee mental wellness. When they know that you care, the overall stress levels are significantly lowered.
2. Provide reasonable work shifts with adequate time off work. Developing and maintaining a work/life balance not only improves physical and mental health, but increases production during the hours that the employee is at work. Helping your staff work toward this goal is a win/win for everyone! By minimizing overtime, you are helping your employees unwind and renew themselves away from the workplace.
Encouraging this healthy work/life balance will serve everyone well. Perhaps taking a look at how your employees are scheduled and making a few minor tweaks will lead to a major morale boost for your staff.
3. Provide challenging but not overwhelming work assignments for employees. Lack of stimulating and challenging activities can lead to employee burnout and a stressful work environment. Similarly, demands that are too high on employees are also taxing on employee mental health. Striking that delicate balance between the two will encourage and strengthen the mental and emotional stamina of your employees and eliminate much of the stress that they may be experiencing in the workplace. Talking with them to discover where that balance lies can also build a positive working relationship between employees and you as management. Employees that feel heard and understood are happier in their roles, which is another bonus to having those conversations.
4. Allow employees to have a say in how their workplace tasks are completed. While offering up complete freedom in this area is impractical within the pharmacy setting, giving your employees an opportunity to share with you their ideas for most productive methods of completing their work-related tasks, and then providing them with the freedom to implement that within your business’s necessary parameters, can increase job satisfaction and significantly lower workplace stress for your employees.
5. Allowing your employees the opportunities for growth and advancement within your business. This can minimize stress and increase loyalty and longevity with your pharmacy. There may not be a job opening in the near future for them to move into, but you’ll have built-in bench strength when their co-workers take time off.
Happy employees want to continue to work in an environment where they know that they are valued and respected, and these are excellent ways to demonstrate this to your pharmacy staff.
Getting some ideas for how to help reduce stress for your employees? As you meet with your business advisors, you might discuss with them and brainstorm solutions that may lead to a healthy and happy workplace for all. There is always going to be stress in a busy workplace, but how you and your team handle it can affect the working environment – and your customers’ experience. Taking the time to address this can help your team perform better.