Articles

Stress In The Workplace

It is a given that there will occasionally be stress in the workplace. Maybe the business enters into a peak season, and the increased business raises havoc with normal working hours. Or a customer representing 15 percent of the total revenue of the business goes bankrupt, forcing significant layoffs. Perhaps the company is growing at a fast rate and experiencing cash flow shortages and trouble paying bills.   
   
 Occasional stress is part of the normal business environment, but leaders who routinely nurture employees and create a positive environment can quickly overcome the negative impact of stressful periods. Unrelieved stress, on the other hand, causes employees to eventually sink into a depressed state, which results in decreased productivity and low morale. 
    
A traveling petting zoo based in Potomac, Maryland, Squeals on Wheels, delivers rabbits, puppies, hedgehogs, lizards, tortoises, and an assortment of other animals to businesses so that stressed-out employees can pet them and feel better. What a deal. You have to work a 12 hour day and are stressed and exhausted, but a lovable and cuddly lizard will make it all better. You cannot make this stuff up!
   
Not long ago I wrote about the fact that employees at Amazon were routinely crying at their desks. Working 80 hour weeks and caught up in a demoralizing dog-eat-dog atmosphere. Do you think that petting an animal is going to fix this? Of course not. Stress is the symptom, but the problem is a lack of an underlying culture of nurturing and support in the business. Employees need to know that they are appreciated, and they learn this by being told this is the case, not by petting a lizard.
   
Stress is inevitable, but it is disappointing that some CEOs think that a traveling petting zoo is a solution.  Look people in the eye, and tell them how important they are to the success of the business. As Steve Covey said in his excellent book Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”
   
 When was the last time you told someone how much you appreciate them or thanked them for a job well-done? If it wasn’t yesterday, you are not doing it enough. It’s not hard. Show people you care about them, and they will endure the occasional stressful periods and not need to pet anything.
   
Click on the following link to read about the ten principles of effective leadership. Apply them, and you will not need the traveling zoo!

10 Leadership Principles (pdf)

Tracy Bech