Red Flags: Stress vs. Your Relationship With Your Employees


(This is a contributed post)

You’re a good person. You appreciate the time and effort your staff spend on your business, and you go out of your way to ensure you take care of them and do what you can to create an excellent working environment.

Then… stress happens.

Stress is an incredibly complicated illness and, sadly, it’s one that is all too prevalent in the modern world – and all the more so with entrepreneurs. Stress is bad for your physical health, but it’s also bad for your personality – people who are experiencing stress may act in a way that is entirely out of character, and will then look back and wonder what on earth made them do such a thing.

There will be times when running your business is stressful, and despite your overall excellent character, you may suddenly find yourself doing things that you’d never normally dream of doing. If, during a high-stress period, you find yourself asking your employees to do any of the following, see this as a red flag for underlying conditions…

#1 – Losing your temper

The most common stress warning sign is also the easiest to identify; if you find that you lose your temper to the point of shouting at your employees, then it is time to step back and consider what might actually be powering your emotions.

#2 – Asking employees to work for free

This may sound like a startling proposition, but it’s something that tends to happen by stealth. You ask your employees to stay late after work; 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there, and so on – as the amounts seem small in isolation, you may well see their overtime more as a favor than something they need to be compensated for.

However, those 10- and 15-minute blocks add up, and your employees will likely feel extremely irritated if they are constantly being asked to stay without additional payment for their time; it may even progress to a point where they want to consider the services here to try and address the issue legally. So if you find yourself continually asking employees to stay an extra few minutes to finish a task, but you are not compensating them for their efforts, then see this as a big warning sign that your decision-making has changed.

#3 – Increasing multitasking

If you’re stressed, short on time, and short-staffed, then you may find that it’s tempting to increase the workload on your existing staff. This is problematic in and of itself, but becomes particularly worrying if you are asking employees to handle issues outside of their skillset; for example, you might ask your accounting team for help with a marketing project. It’s easy to fall into doing this when you don’t have the time to hire staff, but it increases stress on staff and is highly unlikely to produce good outcomes – so it’s a very definite red flag.

Final thoughts

If you do find yourself tempted to ask any of the above of your employees, don’t worry: it’s not a sign that your moral fortitude has completely abandoned you. You’re stressed, running a business is hard, and your thought patterns aren’t what they would typically be. What’s important is that you note the red flags for what they are, and seek issues to help reduce the stress that has, unfortunately but temporarily, clouded your decision-making.

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