Listen up to lower stress levels

Training managers to listen and communicate can help ease employee stress

A manager often has a great deal of influence over the day-to-day work of employees, including when they work, what they do, and how they’re rewarded.

As much of an employee’s experience with a company is tied to a manager, it’s no wonder that employees can sometimes see their manager as a source of anxiety.

When managers don’t have the right skills, a worker’s daily stress level can surge. A recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 84 percent of workers said poorly trained managers create a lot of unnecessary work and stress.

Why not listen?

The skill most lacking among managers was effective communication, the survey found. That can include listening, which managers may hesitate to do because:

  • They are afraid of what they might hear,
  • They don’t want to change the way things are done, or
  • Implementing a new idea would bring extra work for them.

Helpful communication traits for managers

Being a good listener can help managers engage their workers and spot trends, problems, and better ways of getting things done.

Training in communication and other team management techniques can help managers be better listeners. Some traits they can work on include being:

Empathetic: Stress is likely coming at employees from many directions. Being understanding can help a manager do a better job of addressing a situation.

Focused: The employee should have all the manager’s attention. Phones and other devices shouldn’t be a distraction.

An active listener: Making eye contact, asking questions, and engaging in conversation let employees know a manager is taking in what’s being said.

Patient: Letting employees finish speaking without interrupting, and not rushing to react, shows interest in the employee’s comments.

Managers who develop listening skills can be a source of motivation and encouragement for their workers rather than contributing to their stress.

lower employee stress level infographic

About the author
Terri Dougherty - Human Resources Editor

Terri Dougherty focuses on labor law posters, drug testing, marijuana legislation, and employee wellness.

Expert Help Icon

Have a compliance question for Terri? The J. J. Keller Expert Help tool provides you direct access to Terri and other trusted experts to help answer your toughest compliance questions.