Who is to Blame for Emotional Outbursts at Work?




  • Stress is a serious problem for employees today and its effects can cripple your organization. In this fast-paced, technologically connected business world, frustration, and work-based anxiety are rampant. Unless employers find ways to reduce workplace stress, they’ll pay the price in lost productivity, increased safety incidents and higher employee turnover. Fortunately, the tools employers need are well within reach. Talent optimization strategies can help businesses minimize employee stressors to maximize productivity.

    How stressed are employees?

    In a recent poll by Monster, 80% of employees said they have cried at work at least once. Sometimes, outside stressors like family issues cause the emotional outburst, but work-related frustration can also drive employees to tears. Although personal and family issues are outside the purview of employers, management can and should help to alleviate workplace stressors.

    Crying is just one way that employees may show their emotions. Others may withdraw, become short-tempered, or fail to meet deadlines. All are signs that employees are overwhelmed. A Wrike survey found that 29% of U.S. employees categorize their average level of stress at work as high or unsustainably high. About 50% say that work-related stress causes them to lose sleep.

    This kind of constant, pervasive frustration causes employees to be less engaged and less effective at their jobs. It reduces productivity, delays deliverables, and can even drive workers to look for other employment. If employees are exhibiting these symptoms, employers need to step in and address the problem. Systemic frustration and being overwhelmed can lead to disastrous consequences.

    The human brain is not designed for unrelenting stress. When we’re stressed, our memories are poorer, we get sick more often, and we struggle to focus. When employees suffer these symptoms, the business suffers, too.

    What employers can do

    Fortunately, employers can apply Talent Optimization strategies to reduce employee stress. The following techniques help you put the right person in the right job and give them the tools to avoid frustration:

    1. Hire the right candidates – When a person is forced to fill a role that is misaligned to their skills and abilities, they’re more likely to experience stress. To avoid this outcome, hire the right candidates from the beginning. Start by using data to identify the skills an employee will need to fill a particular role. Then create job postings that call out these skills and aptitudes. Finally, design your hiring process to target essential capabilities.

    2. Train and prepare employees – It’s frustrating to face a challenge without the tools to overcome it. Both new hires and existing employees may need additional training and guidance to fully step into their roles, especially as the business changes. Reorganize teams to distribute talent or offer development opportunities to help employees build essential skills. Again, data can help you make informed choices about which training to offer and how to configure teams.

    3. Align them with the mission – Make sure each employee understands both the mission of the organization and how their daily work contributes to goal attainment. When employees are aligned with the mission, they’re more engaged. Employees can overcome frustration when the goal is clear and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by ordering their priorities. Track employee engagement and satisfaction scores to monitor alignment.

    4. Look to management – Few factors affect the employee experience as directly as the manager-employee relationship. Poor communication, misalignment with the mission, and a lack of emotional awareness can strain this relationship. Make sure that all of your managers are trained to meet the individual needs of your employees. When you help managers improve their people skills, the effects trickle down to the people they manage.

    5. Make smart staffing choices – Employees who are constantly frustrated or overwhelmed may be in the wrong position. If the strategies above are not enough to help an employee tackle his/her role, it might be time for a more extreme tactic. Consider moving that employee to a different role, or even removing them from your organization entirely. This step should not be taken lightly, but in some cases, it can be the best choice for everyone involved. Before making this drastic choice, talk with the employee to find out if personal issues could be affecting their performance at work.

    The modern workplace doesn’t have to drive your employees to tears. Talent Optimization can help you diagnose your organization’s talent needs so you can design effective talent strategies and hire the right people. With the right talent in the right positions, your team will be stronger and employees will face fewer of the frustrations that leave them crying in their cubicles. It all starts with a focus on people.

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    Author: Stephanie McGuinn

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