How Clearly Defined Systems & Processes Reduce Workplace Stress

by Apr 12, 2020Business, Processes, Productivity, Systems, Team

We all want to reduce stress in the workplace. Stress hinders productivity, interferes with employee performance and can have a huge impact on our mental health. One of the main causes of workplace stress is clunky, broken or undefined systems and processes. Especially when there is a gigantic task list at hand.

The Never-ending Task List

Isn’t it great when you go into the office and tasks from the day before have all been completed. Ah what a dream! 

However, more likely than not, our days usually start by turning on the computer, making a cup of tea (tea is life!) or grabbing a coffee and checking our emails. As we scroll through emails and crazy to-do list, we notice our employees eyeing us off, waiting for the moment we are free.

This is when it hits us! That gigantic task list! The one that needs to have a lot more items crossed off than currently showing. This is the point when we realise that everything we had set out to do the day before did not get done. Cue face palm now.

Why do you ask? Well because we were playing catch up from the day before. 

Sound familiar?

This is the start of what I like to call the ‘throw-in-the-towel’ syndrome. Which is a much more stressful approach to doing work. However, don’t despair. Getting through your daily work and task list can be very easy. And I’m going to show you how.

When there is a build up of work, there are a few different ways we can approach it. These are…

1. The and…and…and cycle: This is the cycle that many of us experience when starting any new venture. We become overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. Everything has to be done now, work keeps building, the task list keeps growing, and the team keep bringing in more tasks, and there are still tasks from yesterday andand..and, the cycle repeating itself daily.

2. Rinse and Repeat: The second approach is where most of us are. We know what we are doing, yet there is so much going on that we have no idea where to start. Other people are coming to us with questions (distracting us from our current tasks) while we’re still trying to sort out what’s already in front of us.

And because of these interruptions, we’ve lost notes on where we are currently at. Rinse and repeat a few times over each day — getting nowhere.

3. The Dream Team: Now this is where the dream team approach comes in. As a team, we’re confident and know exactly what we’re doing, where tasks are sitting in each project, and are able to calmly face everything with confidence and a solution-focused mindset.

So, which one would you prefer? 1, 2 or the dream team? The dream team sounds much more efficient, doesn’t it?

Want to know the big secret to this approach…

Clear and easy to understand systems and processes! Systems and processes that don’t lead you down the road to no-where or waste your valuable time.

What are clear and easy to understand systems and processes?

To understand clearly defined systems and processes, let me use the example of a car. A car as a whole is a system. It gets you from Location A to Location B. The engine would be referred to as a process, as this is what starts the car/system.

So, what happens if the engine isn’t running? Well the car won’t get you to where you want to go, it’s as simple as that. So now you need to figure out why it’s not running? 

What’s the first thing that happens when we realise that the car isn’t running, panic sets in (well anger first because the last thing you want is to be late to something). Particularly when you have something on, like an important meeting. This is when a well-defined process comes in handy.

When investigating the problem, do you have a checklist in place? Do you know what you need to check to find out why the car won’t run?

If we don’t have a clear definition of what to check, we generally go and ask someone who does, in this case, it’s a mechanic. A mechanic will run you through a list of questions (ah…now that check list makes sense!). And if you had that list of questions, you would gain more clarity.

To begin with,  you would go straight to the manual to find the answer and look through the index to find what you are currently experiencing. You’d then find the page number and go to the correct page. On that page would be a guide and checklist on how to find out what is wrong with the car.

Once you have followed the instructions and done all the tests, dun dahh! The car starts and your stress levels go down.

How this relates to workplace stress?

This is where having procedures with clearly defined and easy to understand systems and processes come into play. A well-defined system or process reduces workplace stress by allowing us to see where something has gone wrong and how best to fix the issue quickly, without stopping productivity or frustrating employees.

This means you can calmly and confidently face the issue without worry or added stress. Just whip that magic list out, follow the instructions and away you go again.


Whether you’ve been in business for some time, just starting to build your venture, have a team, or a solopreneur, having clearly defined systems and processes will give you more direction and clarity in the workplace, reduce any added stress and propel productivity forward — starting your car and setting your business up for growth and success.

About the author

Hello, I’m Rebecca and I’m a Business Systems and Process Consultant.    Over the past 15 years I’ve worked in various roles, as well as ran a very successful VA business. It was during these roles where I learnt how to take a hands-on approach in business systemisation. Now, I’m leveraging this experience to help business owners develop robust systems and processes for better clarity, productivity and overall business performance.


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