Fostering A Low Stress Work EnvironmentIntern Expio
How to build a work culture where teams thrive and succeed.
We sat down with Expio Chief Relationship Officer Jody Reynolds to discuss ways companies can keep employees engaged, rewarded and fulfilled.
How can businesses provide a low-stress work environment?
Jody: One of the ways to foster a low-stress work environment is to have clear core values as a company. At Expio Digital Marketing, Founder and CEO Andy Roller established those for us years ago. Expio’s three core values are: “No ASAP, No BS and No A-Holes”. Our core values definitely contribute to my low-stress environment. “No ASAP” means that nobody gets to ASAP anybody unless there is a true emergency, such as a client’s website being down. When people are ASAP-ed all the time, it’s unfair to them and could disrupt their entire day when they have a work rhythm. I appreciate this core value because it allows us to set our day. If someone really does have a true emergency, it does mean that we all have to gang together and fix it. But we are not allowed to use the word ASAP internally. We will also challenge clients who use that phrase with us. We’ll say, “OK we understand that this is an urgent matter. Exactly when would you like to see this task done?” And sometimes they will come back to us and say, “How about early next week?” So, if it’s Tuesday, then early next week means I have four or five business days to get it done. That means I don’t have to disrupt my entire workflow and that of my team, and we can slip this into our schedules in a non-stressful way. Our clients begin to learn our culture the more they work with us.
The other core values, “No BS and No A-Holes,” mean that we are not going to tolerate things like lying, backstabbing or running each other under the bus, whether internally or externally. It’s a level of protection for all of us that contributes to our low-stress work environment.
What can contribute to high-stress work environments?
Jody: Disorganization! Another key factor to fostering a low-stress work environment is being incredibly organized. Everyone on the team should know their roles and expectations very clearly. If someone was brought on to Expio and they had no idea what was expected of them, that would be extremely stressful, and I know that happens a lot in the professional world.Your leader needs to line out your duties and your roles. Do surprises come up? Of course they do! But if you wake up everyday thinking, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what this day is going to entail,” I can’t imagine how stressful that is. I want to wake up knowing that I’m going to get these seven tasks done today and then I’m going to do some learning and some social listening, and this is going to be a great day. That is a much better way to live.
I definitely recommend using project management software. We use Asana at Expio. A project management tool gives every member of the team clear instructions of what their tasks are and when they are due. And along those lines, I think that it’s important to be deadline oriented to keep stress low. If you know when your task is due, you can march toward it versus an allusive deadline that stresses you out because you don’t know when you’re going to devote time to it. Or, if everything seems like it is due tomorrow, every day you’re gonna wake up stressed, going, “Today is going to be a rushed day, tomorrow is going to be a rushed day.” If you have those deadlines and project management software that gives you all of the tools, resources and information that you need to complete the task, then it is a wonderful day.
How can businesses maintain a non-stress work environment?
Jody: At Expio, we foster a low-stress environment by celebrating wins, big and small. I start our quick weekly meetings with, “Tell me something good.” It is really important to start with a positive, and then we can dive into the nitty gritty of what’s happening this week. It’s important for us to pat each other on the back and keep our jobs rewarding. I think that we are all good about celebrating each other’s small and big wins.
Our weekly Expio meeting is a short 10 minutes mainly to see if anyone is stuck on anything, if anyone needs additional resources, and if anyone has any questions about a project. It’s a quick check in. It’s not an hour long meeting. My point is, don’t have meetings for the sake of having meetings. There are a lot of companies who run on the philosophy of, “We have always had 16 meetings a week and we are going to keep doing that.” Don’t have a meeting if you don’t have a reason to have a meeting. Unproductive meetings are extremely stressful time wasters. Remember the wise saying of, “This could have been an email.” If it could have been an email, it should have been an email. I am a big supporter of that.
How can employees help to establish a non-stress work environment?
Jody: Expio is very good about having a culture of admitting your mistake immediately if you have made a mistake or had a hiccup, or you have an angry client. Tell your superior immediately, so they can support you in the solution. It’s stressful to try to hide a mistake or some sort of a mess up and then have to apologize for it later and maybe risk your job or your performance review. At Expio, we’re gonna bring you in and say, “OK, we understand that this mistake happened. Let’s work together as a team to fix this. With the support of each other, we are going to get through this.” It’s much better to admit the situation from the get-go, and the team works it out together.
Another way Expio is special is that our boss reminds us to “Hold hands in traffic.” If you’re in a jam, grab your teammates. We’re gonna get through this together no matter what it is. Even if I don’t have the skill sets to help you in this particular issue, I’m gonna help you figure it out and we are going to grab more teammates if we need to and all hold hands.
Any final thoughts?
Jody: My final thought about fostering a low-stress work environment is, if you’re job hunting or considering a career move, I cannot stress enough, only work for fantastic people. Work for bosses you believe in, who you trust, and who you like. At Expio, we’re encouraged to spend 20 percent of any day on learning, exploration and doing things that will fulfill us. We’re encouraged to have a curiosity about something new every week or to keep diving into a subject matter to become better at it. At Expio, we’re given the resources we need to do a good job. At Expio, if we feel stuck because we don’t have the right resources, our boss is going to figure out a way to get it for us. He doesn’t want us to be encumbered by something that could be an easy solution, like a tool that would be a more efficient way to get the job done. We’re free to let our creativity blossom. Now, that’s what I call low stress!