Tag Archive for 'Stress'

Stamp Out Employee Stress In Your Pet Sitting Business

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Everyone in a work environment experiences work stress at some point in their lives. Small amounts of stress are good. They can push you to meet a new challenge or face a deadline. However, continuous or chronic stress can become overwhelming and is harmful to your physical and mental health.

As employers, we have an obligation to look after the wellbeing of our employees. On a basic, human level, we want to look after the people we work with and ensure they are okay. From a business stance, workplace stress causes a dip in productivity, low morale and increased absences.

Working in the pet sitting industry brings its own unique challenges. Though working with animals is a wonderful experience, it isn’t without its problems. We’ve all been stuck in traffic, trying desperately to get to the next appointment. And meanwhile, we’re hoping that the client’s beloved pooch can wait until we arrive before going to the toilet. And we’ve all looked at the next day’s schedule and wonder how on earth we’re going to fit it all in. And, of course, there are the pets themselves. We worry about their stress and fretting when their owners are away. It’s a big responsibility looking after someone’s pet and being responsible for their home’s security etc. Sometimes that burden weighs heavily. When your job is busy and pressured, healthy stress can turn into burnout.

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Common Reasons For Work Stress

The following reasons are often cited as a factor in work stress. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are some of the common stressors:

  • Mounting or excessive workloads

  • Lack of managerial support

  • Lack of social support within the organization

  • Work that isn’t fulfilling

  • Lack of opportunities for career development or advancement

  • Lack of control over own schedule and workload

  • Changes to policy or processes

  • Poor salaries

 

Effects Of Stress

If stress is left untreated, it can cause serious harm to physical and mental health. It can lead to many illnesses including depression, anxiety, and heart disease. It is also associated with headaches, stomach pain, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.

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What Employers Can Do

Employers face their own struggles and challenges at work and are not immune from stress. It is just as likely to affect you as your staff, if not more so. There are several steps you can take to deal with and combat stress for yourself and your employees.

1. Manage Workload

One of the main workplace stressors is an overwhelming workload. There are several steps you can take to manage this. The first thing to look at is whether staff can fulfill their duties. Do they have adequate training? Is there anything they are unsure of or need clarification on? Are they worried about dealing with a specific client or pet? Try to address any uncertainty and take steps to fix it.

Communication is vital, both in identifying and managing the problems. Sit down with your employees and work out what you can do to help them. This may mean swapping schedules or working out more flexible hours. It may also involve hiring additional staff.

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2. Set Up An Employee Assistance Programme

There are many Employee Assistance Programme services for employers. Packages vary but tend to include counselling and referral services for employees. They are created to help employees with issues that may impact on their work. If this is an option for your business, it will offer your staff the support they need during difficult times.

3. Set Clear Policies And Contracts

It is important that everyone is aware of their responsibilities from the outset. This includes responsibilities regarding their own roles and to the company. Any policies and documentation should be clear and transparent. Go through these with employees at the beginning of their employment and ensure they are aware of what is expected of them. Review your job descriptions to make sure they include all requirements and expectations.

Employers should also set up regular supervision meetings. This provides objectives and targets for employees. The manager and employee can both assess how well these have been fulfilled. They can then decide together where changes need to be made. This is a great opportunity to look at strengths and provide useful constructive criticism. A positive approach should always be taken, even when discussing weaknesses. Always start with the positives. Suggest different approaches and improvements rather than dwelling on failures.

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4. Flexibility And Control

People can often feel pressured if they have no control over their workload and how it is managed. Everyone works in a slightly different way. Though there must be some structure in a work environment, it is important to allow employees some control over their work. For example, when planning their routes each day, etc. Or in how to deal with a particular pet.

Discuss work with staff and involve them in making decisions. Involve them in discussions on how work is carried out. They are likely to have some useful insights and may be able to streamline/improve processes.

5. Foster An Open And Supportive Environment

If workers feel they can’t talk to managers about issues, this creates an unhealthy environment. Therefore, it is essential that you create an open and supportive workspace. Ensure supervisors and managers hold regular meetings with their charges to discuss issues they may be facing. Encourage an ‘open door’ policy. Group meetings are also effective as they allow co-workers to discuss issues among themselves. Social events allow co-workers to build solid relationships.

Keep everyone informed about what is happening in the business as a whole. Let them know about new business and new initiatives. Encourage everyone to make a contribution and put forward suggestions.

6. Manage Change

Changes in company policy or processes can lead to concern and worry. Many people fear change and fear their stability is being rocked. Change is inevitable in all businesses, and it is often necessary for growth. The way you manage this will have a significant impact.

Include everyone in discussions. Consult and ensure everyone can offer input and is heard. Always plan ahead when making changes. Give clear indications about when it will happen and ensure everyone is supported throughout the process.

Providing a caring and supportive environment for staff will help reduce stress. Building strong relationships and fostering an open environment will help workers feel they matter. A happy workforce leads to greater levels of productivity and higher morale. This will impact positively on your bottom line. So, it is in everyone’s best interest to identify and manage stress in the workplace.

Overworked? 4 Signs You Need to Recharge

Overworked, Overwhelm, Tired, Fatigue, Stressed OutTake a cue from elite athletes who know how much to train AND avoid overtraining.

Here are four ways to tell you’re about to hit a performance wall.

Sometimes it’s obvious you need a break, but in most cases you’ll figure it out only once it’s too late. When you work double-digit hours during the week with Saturdays and Sundays no longer a reprieve, feeling overworked, stressed out and fatugued can become the new normal.

Even so, you’ll eventually hit a wall and when that happens it can take days and even weeks to recover the enthusiasm, creativity, and motivation you’ve lost. Not to mention the risk of a breakdown or other physical manifestation.

Fortunately a few of the same techniques endurance athletes use to detect the need for additional recovery can be used to indicate when you need to recharge your work batteries.

Where elite athletes are concerned, chronic overtraining can actually defeat the fitness purpose and result in decreased stamina, power and speed. Sometimes after an inlfection point has been reached, the harder they train the slower and/or weaker they get.

The same thing happens to us when we’re overworked at the office, on the job.

Of course we then put in more hours to compensate and get even less done!

So how can you tell the difference between feeling overworked and really overworking yourself?

Here are 4 ways to ensure you stay at your professional best so that you are in peak performance state.

  1. Check your resting heart rate. Every day, before you get out of bed, take your pulse. (There are plenty of free apps that make it easy. Some even log results.) Most of the time your heart rate will stay within a few beats per minute. But when you’re overworked and stressed your body sends more oxygen to your body and brain by increasing your heart rate. (The same thing happens when athletes overtrain and their bodies struggle to recover.) If your heart rate is up in the morning, do whatever it takes to get a little extra rest or sleep that night.
  2. Check your emotions. Having a bad day? Feeling irritable and short-tempered? If you can’t put your finger on a specific reason why, chronic stress and fatigue may have triggered a physiological response and sent more cortisol and less dopamine to your brain. Willing yourself to be in a better mood won’t overcome the impact of chemistry. In extreme cases, the only cure is a break, starting with a good night’s sleep!
  3. Check your weight. Lose or gain more than one percent of body weight from one day to the next and something’s wrong. Maybe yesterday was incredibly stressful and you failed to notice you didn’t eat and drink enough or maybe you failed to notice just how much you actually ate. Lack of nourishment and hydration can impair higher-level mental functions (which may be why when we’re overworked and feeling stressed we instinctively want to perform routine, less complex tasks.) And eating too much food—well, we all know the impact of that.
  4. Check your, um, output. Urine color can indicate a lack of hydration (although sometimes it indicates you created really expensive urine after eating a ton of vitamins your body could not absorb.) The lighter the color the more hydrated you are. Hydration is a good thing. Proper hydration aids the absorption of nutrients and helps increase energy levels. If your urine is darker than usual the cure is simple: Drink a lot of water.

The key is to monitor each of these over a period of time so you develop a feel for what is normal for you.

Pay special attention on weekends and when you take a vacations. If you notice a dramatic change, especially a positive one, that’s a sure sign you need to change your workday routine.

Don’t think this is only for elite athletes. If you want to be the best you can possibly be, no matter what your profession, whenever you slam into the workload wall you are far from our best.

Don’t even think you don’t have the time to take a short break or get a little more sleep. You can’t afford NOT TO.

If you don’t monitor your workload (and stress), eventually your mind and your body will hit a wall and force you to take a much longer break than you can really afford…

So why not avoid the collision in the first place?!?!