Managing stressed employees in times of scarce financial resources

Kate Molloy, Director

Performance is down and anxiety is up” as the cost of food, petrol and other goods rise according to research outlined by HRD.

News reporting alone is enough to make most employees feel stressed about their financial circumstances. Whilst Australia maintains a near-record level of job vacancies and a low seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, there is a cost of living crisis hitting those who can least afford it and uncertainty about a recession. The demand for Lifeline services has surged.

All employers will have to engage with their staff about remuneration, rewards and recognition. It is likely that whatever the outcome of those discussions lateral thinking may be essential

The mental and emotional distraction caused by the current financial challenges are playing a role in depressing day to day performance. Problem solving, future focused endeavours, generating new business and increased business performance are also under threat.

The question for employers is what can be done to reduce distraction and create the space and capacity for inspired creativity and innovation?

In our experience these two simple strategies will assist employees to feel less chaotic and more supported.

Reducing chaotic mindsets

Non-medical anxiety and panic has a tendency to flare up in the form of persistent thoughts that can’t be easily dismissed, difficulty concentrating and feelings of dread. None of these are helpful in the workplace but they can’t simply be left on a shelf when staff start work and picked up again when the day is done. Pretending they are not present during working hours may work for a while, but they are likely to spring out of their hiding spot in the most unconstructive ways and at the worse possible moments.

Creating an environment in which individuals have permission to genuinely say they are having a bad day to colleagues can be a powerful salve. The trick is to model the behaviour in a way that encourages those sharing their stories to do so within understood time limits and those who are listening to offer empathetic acknowledgement without getting bogged down in the detail. One way to achieve this is to dedicate 5 to 10 minutes during a team toolbox or stand-up meeting to people wanting to share ideas about how to ‘shake it off’ for the day.

Creating a sense of communal strength

It is easy to feel very alone when the panic about money settles in. Knowing that you are part of a team who share similar experiences, worries, values and hopes can help to build a sense of work being a safe haven. There is no shortage of activities that can be used to quickly reinforce team bonding. The tool we at WEIR are using the most to help our clients is one that gets people out of their heads and into the best versions of themselves. Collaborizza® cards safely encourage vulnerability, connection and creativity. Once your team has an initial positive experience of the cards, they can be used again and again to explore an endless array of topics.

Contact WEIR if you would like a demonstration or to learn more about Collaborizza and how it works for teams