Workplace herd wisdom

The Why Behind the Bye: The Formula for Workplace Stress

The average cost of preventable turnover for US employers is $75 million. I think many of us can agree that the keyword in that statistic was “preventable”. These incredible costs are actually avoidable, yet employee turnover is on the rise. A Hay Group study revealed a 12.9% increase in employee turnover between 2012 and 2014.

We’ve established that employee turnover is costly, it’s on the rise and it’s preventable…so what’s the problem here? The issue seems to be that employers don’t know how to prevent it. In order to fix a problem, you have to know what it is.

It’s Not Always the Boss’ Fault

We have all heard the saying, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” Well, a 2012 Tower Watson survey of 32,000 employees revealed that immediate supervisor relationship came in at 4th as a predictor of engagement. Leadership, stress/workload and goals, all came before it.

While it’s very true that the relationship between manager and employee can have a big impact on an employee’s decision to leave, we have to keep in mind that this is only one factor of many in the issue of turnover.

Stress is Turnover’s BFF

According to the American Institute of Stress, stress from work is by far the most major source of stress for American adults, and work related stress has consistently escalated over the past few decades. Stress at work has been proven to cause turnover, but because of the personalized nature of stress, it can be hard for leaders to find a solution. The AIS does however find a common thread in stress across the board.

“The severity of job stress depends on the magnitude of the demands that are being made and the individual’s sense of control or decision-making latitude he or she has in dealing with them. Scientific studies based on this model confirm that workers who perceive they are subjected to high demands but have little control are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.”

This is the stress factor that leaders need to pay attention to.

High Demands + No Control = Stress = Turnover

So let’s be realistic about this, high demands in work and business aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, how we deal with those high demands can change this formula for stress. The demands are going to keep on coming, but the next logical question is how can leaders give their workers control and empowerment?

Inc 500 entrepreneur and workplace leadership pro, Kevin Daum came up with 8 Tips for Empowering Employees that we couldn’t agree with more. Below are Daum’s 8 tips and how we suggest leaders take action.

1)    Foster open communication: Offer frequent, short employee surveys.

2)    Reward self-improvement: Offer incentives for training or development.

3)    Encourage safe failure: Publicly celebrate the effort and explore the issues.

4)    Provide plenty of context: Give the “why” behind each task.

5)    Clearly define roles: All roles should be in writing –concrete and public.

6)    Require accountability: Assign Directly Responsible Individuals (DRI)

7)    Support their independence: Realize when workers need breathing room and give it to them.

8)    Appreciate their efforts: “Thank you” is free and it works!

Consider this your leadership checklist. Each one of these efforts can improve your workforce in more areas than just stress elimination. An empowered and informed workforce can go a lot farther than an office full of people with heart conditions due to stress.

Employees don’t want to be stressed out at work and employers don’t want their workers to leave. When we boil the issue down, it is easy to see the solution, and empowerment is it. Did you notice at the top of Daum’s list was “Foster open communication”? We truly have found that communication is the key to empowerment. The days of one-way communication from leaders to workers are over (or at least they should be).

We would love to help you create that two-way dialogue that is vital to your employee empowerment. Sign up for a free trial today and see if Herd Wisdom is right for you and your organization.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc