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Lead Your Team Managing

What Stresses Your Employees Out Most? Change

What Stresses Your Employees Out Most? Change
Credit: gguy/Shutterstock

If there is one thing that can raise employees' stress levels, it's change, new research finds.

Whether it's a new boss, a new type of project or a new department structure, change can be very scary for many workers. However, it's not the increased workload they're worried about, according to a study from ComPsych Corp., a provider of employee assistance programs.

Rather, the most stress revolves around what managers expect from their workers when changes are made, the study found. In fact, more than 30 percent of employees are most troubled by their supervisors' unclear expectations when change occurs, according to the study.

"Change has become a constant for many workplaces, whether in the U.S. or globally," Richard Chaifetz, founder, chairman and CEO of ComPsych, said in a statement. "Employees are telling us that much of the disequilibrium around change is coming from managers."

The study found that 20 percent of employees think confusion and conflict with co-workers and other departments are the biggest causes of stress after changes are made.

Just 18 percent of those surveyed said an increased workload is what raises their stress levels when changes occur.

Other sources of employees' stress surrounding change include an uncertainty about the future, a fear about the company's stability, new processes and operating rules, and worries about whether they have the skills needed to do what is now being asked of them. [What Stress Really Does to Your Workforce ]

To help employees deal with stress surrounding change, ComPsych offered several tips:

  • Manage it. There are things you can't control, but you can control your reaction to them. Practice mindfulness and constructive approaches to change at work. For example, if you find yourself worrying, channel that energy into problem solving and planning.
  • Ask for clarification and feedback. If change has left you uncertain about your duties, set aside more time to meet and plan with your manager and others.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Change in the workplace can bring out negative reactions in people. As much as possible, try not to get bogged down in conversations and interactions with those who may be complaining.
  • Look for opportunities. Change can often open up new ways to learn more skills in your job or to take on responsibility that can further your career.

The study was based on surveys of more than 2,000 employees.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.