Dear Crabby,

Another year has passed by quickly and I’m looking towards this new year with hope and promise. As the credit and collection manager at a small company, my work is always very busy, which I generally love. I especially feel good when I can support the sales team for new clients or can resolve a past due account in a positive way. That said, I work in an environment that has several weekly, monthly, and quarterly deadlines with a lot of unexpected emergencies and many needs and wants from a variety of people in between.

Since I and my co-workers find ourselves constantly on high alert, my New Year’s resolution is to do what I can to reduce the stress level of our working environment but I’m at a loss as to how I can get started. Your thoughtful advice will be much appreciated.

Signed: Love the Job but Do Get Stressed Out

Dear Stressed Out, 

First, welcome to my world as I can completely understand the ongoing stress that we are all faced with. By nature of today’s “high paced and immediate need for results” world, trying to meet all deadlines while there are so many fires to put out, produces a very stressful atmosphere. But fortunately, there are creative ways that you, your team, and your company can do to create a more stress free and fun environment. Here’s my quick list for your consideration.

1. Set up a “Recess Time.” – I know this sounds a little bit off the wall but if possible, have a little game room where employees can take 15 minutes to play ping pong, foosball, or any other quick table games. Even for a short period of time, the competitive juices will greatly reduce most built up stress. I’ve heard that in a few companies, some of these table game recess periods evolved into tournaments to raise money for charities.

2. Organize a Wellness Program – The sky is the limit on this one. Some companies organize weekly lunchtime walks and others encourage employees to do daily stretching and light exercise at their desks together. There are also healthy eating programs to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure that can greatly reduce the feeling of stress.

3. Create a quiet place – Most companies have an unused room or space that they can turn into an area with no phones, no intercom, and no noise where employees can take a break and meditate. Sometimes getting away from the constant visual and audio stimulation for a few minutes can do wonders to recalibrate a person’s well-being.

4. Allow some personalized decorating – One’s office cubicle is really like one’s home away from home. When employees (within limits) can put pictures up and create a little color or flare in their personal space, it can certainly make them feel better.

5. Organize a fun team outing – The work force that plays together, stays together. Every so often holding a happy hour, going to a baseball game, having a picnic at the beach, or doing a hiking trip that allows employees to spend time with each other as friends, also allows for more personal bonding and relationship building.

6. Joke sessions– As long as there are some parameters surrounding the type of jokes, having a time when employees can come to hear and exchange jokes during the week is another way to let off some steam. Laughing, especially a good belly laugh, releases a gazillion endorphins and other hormones that can quickly sweep stress away.

7. Give praise and pep talks– Whether you’re a manager or co-worker, reminding yourself to periodically give thanks and words of encouragement to the people around you, below you, and above you will make everyone feel good. No matter where you are in the echelon of the company, we all need to have that feeling of being valued and appreciated.

There’s no question that coping effectively with stress is essential for physical and mental health. In addition to what your organization can do to support stress management, individuals must also take charge by eating the right foods, getting enough sleep and exercise, and removing stressors on a personal level where one can.

Hope these will help to make your New Year a more productive, fun, and stress free time.

Crabby

Dear Crabby is a credit and collection advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts (nseiverd@cmiweb.com) on what to advise are most welcome and with your permission we’ll reprint your comments in the next issue of our newsletter. 

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