Our moving and storage business was based in Texas and there’s one thing you can count on in Texas – HOT summers! Triple-digit temperatures are common in our part of the country. Here’s another fact: The busy season for the moving industry is in the summer months when kids are out of school. Peak demand during extreme temperatures makes for a stressful moving season!
Prolonged, stressful situations create risks to our teams and challenges for effective leadership. When our people are burdened with unusual demands, they can get burned out physically and emotionally. It’s up to us, as leaders, to recognize the risks and take steps to address the situation before it becomes an even larger issue.
With some thoughtful attention, every leader can identify these periods of strain and proactively help his or her people handle the extra demands on their minds and bodies.
Drink before you're thirsty…
When I was the CEO of our moving business, I understood that the moving season created a sort of perfect storm with high demand for our services coupled with extremely hot temperatures. Consequently, I started to broadcast this simple message each May as we prepared for the summer season: “Drink before you’re thirsty and eat before you’re hungry.” My reasoning was simple: If our people don’t take care of themselves physically, then they will risk physical harm to themselves and others. Additionally, they’re at risk of getting burned out mentally and loosing their ability to best serve our customers.
After seeing some folks on our crews start the day with a soda and sugar-laden snacks from a convenience store, we took tangible steps to help our people during this critical time of the year. We provided our moving crews with large jugs of water or sports drink to help keep them hydrated on the job. We also provided fruit each morning for the crews to take with them out on the jobs so they could eat it throughout the day.
An opportunity for every leader
There’s a wider application here. Any business can be subject to these perfect storms where market conditions place our people in stressful situations. Think about accountants. Every year tax season puts significant burdens on the entire staff of accounting firms. This is the type of situation that begs for a leader to proactively serve the acute needs of his or her people. The partners of an accounting firm might provide a mandatory cook-out in a nearby park. A simple event like this would get the harried staff out of their seats and away from their computer screens for a short amount of time. The stress relief would likely be felt throughout the office.
What are the benefits to helping employees make healthy choices with their eating, drinking and stress management?
1. It helps signal to your people that you care for them.
2. Their self-esteem will increase just knowing that they have healthier bodies.
3. The will enjoy their work more and become more productive because they have less anxiety and stress.
In the final analysis, the time and money that we invest to help our team through the choppy waters of business will make a difference in how they cope with stressful situations. Something as simple as a cool glass of lemonade can refresh the body and spirit of a weary team-mate.
In your workplace, how do you lead your team through stressful situations?