The sad reality of an overly taxing workplace is as true for maintenance management as it is for any other industry. When we consider that stressful and high pressure work environments have been associated with heart disease, hypertension, depression and memory loss, it becomes increasingly clear that a more serious approach must be taken to alleviate this burden.
To try and improve your work environment and support you in maintaining your physical and mental well being, we have compiled a list of some of the likely causes of this stress as well as 10 handy pieces of advice to help you overcome these problems.
First, we need to see what’s causing stress in your workplace:
- An excessive workload — Perhaps the most salient problem is an increasingly excessive workload. This is often caused by improper allocation of tasks across the team resulting in some team members assuming more responsibility than necessary, or by using outdated and sub-optimal programmes which complicate tasks which should be very simple.
- Poor communication — when communication between managers, technicians, contractors and clients isn’t clear and consistent, important tasks will be left forgotten or be poorly executed and stressful situations will inevitably arise.
- Lack of rest — On an increasingly regular basis, managers are required to answer calls and tend to schedules outside of their regular working hours or over the weekend. It means they never have time off and are constantly engaged in their work.
- Lots of other stuff — Unfair pressure from ‘upstairs’ to achieve results, trying to juggle too many responsibilities at once, negativity in the workplace, a boring office… the list of causes is unfortunately long enough to fill an ebook and then some!
So, how do you kick the stress out of your workplace? Here are our 10 tips:
1. Rest properly
Combining regular pauses from your daily work load with the right amount of sleep (not too much!- this can be counter productive) will do wonders for your physical and mental health. A well rested team is a happier and more productive team.
2. Improve communication
Poor communication really is one of the surefire ways to inject stress and negativity into your working environment.
Simple communication really does correlate to better, cleaner and optimal communication channels. Utilising a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) with integrated mobile apps will undoubtedly improve the quality and efficiency of communication between managers and technicians.
3. Exercise and eat well
Not only applicable to occupational stress but indeed for all types of stress, maintaining good habits in terms of physical activity and healthy eating (e.g. a particular challenge for those that eat in an office canteen), is important to minimise the stress from work and to ensure your body is healthy and happy.
4. Avoid negativity and the “Chain of Screaming”
Is your workplace one of those unpleasant places where the CEO screams at the manager, the manager screams at the assistant, the assistant screams at the technicians, and the technicians scream at each other… or at the dog (who would also scream if it could)?
This “Chain of Screaming” (which is actually a theory proposed in the popular US sitcom How I Met Your Mother), or any situation which even resembles it, is extremely dangerous for the workers’ mental health and should be avoided at all costs.
5. Automate maintenance schedules
For once, we genuinely are not trying to sell something… but equally… having a CMMS to automate maintenance schedules and reports will significantly reduce the manager’s workload and allow him/her to have significantly more time to rest and have some quiet time. Having the assurance that key interventions have already been planned using a preventive maintenance schedule will reduce the number of failures and will be a huge weight of his/her shoulders. Don’t underestimate it!
6. Make your work space pleasant
Believe it or not, a lot of stress comes from the overly clinical, monotonous and lifeless office spaces that have become far more common than they should be. It’s important that people feel comfortable in the workplace, so try to make it feel homely and pleasant whilst making sure the air quality is very good- a lot of your employees will spend all day inside and it is important that they are breathing fresh air!
7. Make room for flexibility
Having 100% fixed working hours is a very old fashioned and ineffectual way to run a business. Granting your employees the flexibility to deal with unexpected situations will greatly reduce their stress levels. An accommodating, understanding work environment will nourish a revitalised team that is committed to the workplace, rather than one that dreads waking up for 7:30am!
8. Allocate work properly
Proper allocation of work among the team is essential to ensure a sense of inclusion and to ensure that people do not feel overworked. Once again, a maintenance management system is most likely the way to go.
A CMMS allows managers to be more aware of the workload assigned to each technician, avoiding awkward situations where an employee is working for two whilst others are left bored and demotivated as they spend the day clock watching…
9. Recognize and reward good work
Rather than being critical of mistakes and flippant when people perform well. A rewards system, such as publically recognising an employee’s excellent performance in team meetings is a great way to motivate your staff to work harder… so long as you avoid waking the competitive dragon that lies in us all…
10. Have fun!
Team members that interact socially will work better together, inevitably increasing the productivity of the whole team. Why not try creating traditions at the workplace, leading initiatives to meet up after work, celebrating important dates etc. Making the workplace fun and ACTIVELY enjoyable is certainly among the best ways to reduce stress levels.
The goal is simple: For there to be no “but’s” when your staff say that they love their job.