How Can Employers Reduce Stress in the Workplace?
It’s common for employees to experience stress in the workplace. It may stem from the nature of the job itself, like careers with high injury rates, or factors related to:
- Culture & dynamics
- Leadership support
While stress isn’t altogether avoidable, employers can help employees navigate workplace complexities and manage compound stressors with well-being-centered solutions.
A Holistic Approach for Employers to Reduce Stress in the Workplace
What we’ll cover in this article:
While stress certainly takes a toll physically, several other factors influence overall well-being. There are eight interconnecting dimensions of wellness:
- Care & maintenance of the body (diet, exercise, sleep)
- Connection & relationship with others
- Understanding, navigating, & communicating emotions (stress management)
- Finding enrichment through personal/professional means
- Living within a person’s means/planning for the future
- Connection to a person’s life purpose/higher power
- Open to experiences/opportunities that stimulate the mind
- A work environment that promotes wellness/sustainable practices
Well-being is multifaceted and interconnected — for example, struggling with spiritual or emotional health can manifest as stress in the physical body. Employers intending to relieve stress in their organizations can create policies, procedures, and a culture that cultivates wellness to target each aspect of employee well-being.
Negative reinforcement and unavailable communication channels are the antitheses of productivity. Creating a culture of recognition or appreciation improves employee retention and production. Acknowledging milestones, celebrating wins — big or small — and encouraging peers to recognize one another’s successes are simple ways to swap stress for satisfaction. The more employers and employees participate in a culture of recognition, the more natural and effective it becomes.
An established company mission, or vision, is foundational. All policies and procedures must be aligned with employers’ thorough understanding of how each employee contributes to the deeper mission. Employees that grasp their purpose in the bigger picture are more likely to be engaged because they have a sense of direction and know their effort is impactful.
Employers can reinforce employees’ beliefs about their abilities and potential by cultivating and prioritizing a growth mindset in the workplace. This directly correlates with real outcomes in employees’ lives, and helps them feel in control of life within and outside of work, which is necessary for optimal well-being. Organizations can encourage employees to invest in their career growth by being transparent about the requirements for advancement opportunities — and offering them in the first place.
Some other ways employers can support employees’ career advancement are taking an interest in career goals, endorsing training and development, and promoting mentorship and job shadowing. Performance reviews should be a staple for providing helpful feedback. Also, employees should feel supported by their peers and management.
Employees experience stress when they can sense rumblings under the surface, but it isn’t immediately addressed or gets ignored altogether. Leadership can be transparent by initiating open dialogue, answering questions, and sharing expectations, setbacks, and impactful metrics. Communication can eliminate qualms and help employees feel confident in their position.
Rigid work environments and improbable expectations are a recipe for undue stress and lackluster performance. Especially in today’s landscape, flexible work policies can do wonders for staff morale, productivity, and retention. While policies look different for every organization, they can consist of flexible hours or locations, encouraging additional breaks throughout the day, or setting up spaces for those who need quiet or alone time.
An employee who can come in and leave early on certain days of the week to accommodate childcare, for example, has the freedom to control their life without relying on outside resources.
While it’s become common to bring work home, it can be detrimental to individuals’ health and ultimately less productive for the organization. Employers should encourage their teams to put down their work, get plenty of rest, and pursue fulfilling activities.
Additionally, employers can encourage peers to support each other by dividing work amongst teams or providing wellness opportunities like webinars with topics covering priority management or well-being habits in a busy schedule. Allowing the mind and body to de-stress and recharge helps employees return to work with positive energy and renewed focus.
Compound workplace stressors can be alleviated as employees possess the tools, resources, and time to implement well-being-centered solutions. The following offerings further encourage employees to work on their wellness outside of policies and procedures.
Whether at a desk or on a construction site, taking time to stretch or exercise throughout the work day has long-term benefits for your body and mind. Stretching increases blood flow and circulation to the brain, which keeps your mind sharp and even contributes to a better mood.
Muscles become short and tight without stretching, which can lead to joint pain, strains, and muscle damage from even minimally strenuous activity. Musculoskeletal programming includes options like strength and conditioning classes, stretching, and ergonomics workshops to help increase mobility and decrease the likelihood of injury.
Equipping employees with instructor-led workplace mindful meditation can make lasting positive changes. Mindfulness training boosts memory and focus and helps restore forward-thinking and perspective. This is also great for helping your employees increase their overall threshold for managing stress.
Studies have shown that mindful meditation:
- Reduces depression relapses by 12%
- Improves back pain sufferers’ ability to complete daily tasks by 30%
- Reduces chances of being hospitalized for coronary heart disease by 87%
- Delays the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s by 43%
A corporate stress management program offers programming and classes employees can participate in together. Whether it is live instructor-led classes like yoga and stretching or health coaching and chair massages, engaging in de-stressing activities together builds camaraderie on the team. We want to provide employees with wellness opportunities that help them manage and reduce their overall stress.
Discover more of the most effective wellness initiatives of the year.