How to take the stress out of business

Stress costs the Australian economy billions - and accounts for three days per year out of the office for each of your team. Meiron Lees explains how to reduce stress and get back in control.

Small business has certainly had its challenges with rising economic pressures and focus on short term results. SME owners and their employees are working under prolonged conditions of stress, with little support on how to manage and reduce it.

Workplace stress is costing Australian businesses $10.2 billion a year and 3.2 days per employee are lost each year due to workplace stress. Stress is also one of the fastest growing areas of workers compensation claims and employee absences. Currently 21.6% of all Australian employees suffer stress that affects their productivity and ability to work effectively and 9 out of 10 employee’s rate workplace stress at their number one stressor.

Stress and pessimism reduces our ability to reach our true potential and affects our motivation and willingness to go that extra mile.

So what is creating this stress? Is there a way to start feeling calmer and emotionally composed, when so many demands and constraints are placed upon us?

Stress arises when two situations occur. The first is when we are presented with demands and pressures that are not matched with our knowledge and abilities to cope with them. The second is when we feel that we are not in control of a situation or have limited options available to change our circumstances.

In addressing the first situation it is important to identify the knowledge and skills gaps that are present.

The following questions may be useful:

  1. What do I need to know that will help resolve my current business challenges?
  2. What skills do I need to develop or enhance that will help to further progress my business?
  3. Who can help me to bridge these gaps?

The second situation is certainly more challenging.

When we don’t feel in control it affects our confidence and ability to make decisions with clarity and certainty.

Decisions lead to conditions so choosing the right path is of utmost importance.

The truth is that we always have choices. Sometimes we don’t want to make a particular choice especially if it’s less than ideal and will create negative emotions.

However, if it means trading short term pain for long term gain it is often a worthwhile exercise.

The following points may be useful in helping you to make smart choices:

  1. Brainstorm what you believe to be the best choices that are available to you. (limit them to a maximum of 3 choices)
  2. Write a short action plan (including milestones with dates) that you will implement for each choice
  3. Write down the most probable sequence of events that will occur for each action plan
  4. Identify the derailers and the possible solutions to them
  5. Discuss your plan with a mentor or business coach and ask for their opinion, changes and suggestions.

Many business owners at this time are looking for new ways to improve cash flow and create a more sustainable business model.

The important point to remember is that you are not alone.

There are many people that have walked similar paths and can help support you in D-Stressing your business. If you feel that you need a mentor, invest time in finding the right person or alternatively start your own Mastermind group with people that you respect and admire.

Meiron Lees is a specialist in building resilience for businesses. 

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