April 9, 2012 | Barb Carr

Career Development: Reduce Workplace Stress by Making Room for Workers to Use Talent

We’ve been discussing an infographic from Human Resources MBA describing how your job may be killing you.  Last week, we highlighted one of the stress points listed on the infographic that employers can do to reduce job stress for employees:  Align workload with capability and capacity of workers.

This week we will highlight the second point on the infographic that employers can do to reduce job stress for employees:

Make room for workers to grow and use talent in their positions.

Here are three questions to consider before tackling this proactive improvement:

1. Should you hire based on skill or values?

It’s a challenge to create an environment where workers can grow and use talent in their positions if you’ve hired staff that don’t fit into the culture.

An employee’s resume doesn’t tell the whole story.  Managers need employees who fit into the core values of the company.  When an employee does not share attitudes of a company culture, he or she detracts from it.  Managers should consider screening for the best cultural fit when choosing among talent.

Some things to think about (from “How My Company Hires for Culture First, Skills Second,” Harvard Business Review Blog Network):

Don’t just ask candidates to tell you how they espouse your company’s values; let them show you.

Be crystal clear about your culture and values.

Don’t combine skills interviews with values interviews.

2. Does a Training Investment Really Pay Off?

It’s been said over and over again that to develop staff you have to invest in good training.  But good training is often expensive — does it really pay off?  According to an article in Gallup Management Journal, it does if it complements an employees’ “knowledge, skills, and experience by maximizing the power of their innate talents” (Why Strengths Matter in Training).

Before investing in training, the article advises that managers should ask themselves these questions:

Do employees clearly understand the priorities in their day-to-day work?

Are there information flow barriers in your company? Do workers have the resources and support they need from teams outside their workgroups?

Do people feel comfortable asking for help and giving opinions? What channels of formal and informal communication can they use to voice opinions and share ideas across the organization?

How can you use everyday points of contact to talk with employees or teams about increasing productivity and efficiencies?

3. Do you know your employees’ most important personal goals?

Neil Patel, named by the Wall Street Journal as “top influencers on the web,” and by Entrepreneur magazine as on of the top entrepreneurs in the nation, believes that workers have a tendency to mix their work and personal life, and employee satisfaction grows when the employee’s personal life is going well.

Before any employee starts working for me, I always ask them their 5 most important personal goals. These goals can’t be tied to work and have to be purely personal. Once they list them out to me, I let them know which ones I can help them accomplish.

“In most cases I can typically solve 4 out of 5 goals any new employee lists out to me. So as they continue to work for me over the course of each year, I slowly help them mark off each of their goals” (How to Keep Your Employees Happy While Pushing Them to Their Limit).

Considering how an employee would fit into your company’s culture before hiring him or her, investing in training that complements an employee’s innate talent and understanding an employee’s personal goals can help reduce workplace stress.

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