A company doesn't necessarily need to get rid of a boss when her employees are taking stress leave. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employees experience stress as a normal part of their jobs, sometimes to the point that they need time away from work. Absenteeism, however, can be a sign of organizational and communication breakdown as well as lost revenue due to stress-related illness, low staff morale and poor productivity that can seriously impact the bottom line. The important thing is to discover the underlying cause of employee stress and re-orient the business processes.
Assess the Situation
The manager is an obvious scapegoat, but if current organizational structure is inefficient, interpersonal conflict and stress are bound to spiral out of control. It's hard for any manager to save a sinking ship. An in-depth analysis of business processes will shed light on operational issues that need to be addressed. Seeking feedback from staff and involving an independent third party, if possible, provides perspective on workplace stressors.
The Root of the Problem
The World Health Organization estimates that stress costs American businesses $300 billion per year in rising insurance and health care costs, according to an article in "Forbes." While "USA Today" quotes psychologist Robert Hogan stating that 75 percent of working adults report the most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss. If bosses are doing their job properly, it could be the recruitment process, lack of orientation or incentive policies that need to be changed.
Staff skills should be aligned with their role in the company. Perhaps your manager is better suited to an analyst role. Incorporating changes such as cultural awareness training that's vital for maintaining interpersonal relations in a multicultural environment can improve teamwork. Finding creative ways to relieve employee stress, implementing work-life balance policies or a new health program can do wonders to lift staff morale and ease stress.
It's important to implement procedures for staff grievances, develop a staff manual and open up lines of communication. Develop a culture of openness, seek regular feedback from employees in the form of a staff survey and then report the findings. Review recruitment and training policies, and implement steps that can circumvent personnel and operational issues being overlooked. If a manager or other staff member is found to be incompetent, after evidence has been documented, she can be put on notice or given a warning. Rushing into a dismissal scenario risks potential allegations of discrimination or lawsuits.
Caroline Banton has more than 14 years of experience in the communications and publishing fields, working in global development and finance. Her articles have covered business, economics and recruitment, among other topics. Banton holds an M.B.A. in marketing management.