Stress can impact your employees, both at work and at home. Learning how to lower stress effectively can increase employee productivity and improve their connections to their personal and home lives when off the clock. While stress isn’t often visible, it can impact emotional and physical health.
In fact, approximately 30 percent of U.S. employees have reported elevated stress levels, according to a Towers Watson survey reported by Forbes. Additionally, employers acknowledged that a lack of work/life balance was the second-largest cause of workplace stress behind inadequate staffing.
While it isn’t possible to know the stress factors of every employee, the following behaviors can indicate an employee is experiencing stress:
- Increased absenteeism;
- Disconnection from the team/department;
- Drops in productivity; and,
- Increased anger, frustration and irrational behavior.
While the signs can be evident, the source of stress can come from many places, such as work, personal finances, relationships and commitments. While the ultimate goal is to learn how to lower stress, employees must feel that the company actually cares about their well-being. Until employees believe the company cares, it may be difficult to educate them on reducing stress in their daily lives.
Stress Education and Prevention
In today’s business climate, employees often feel disposable. They aren’t thinking of how to reduce stress, but rather how to be a top performer at work. Showing that employee stress is of great concern to an organization is the first step in showing employees it’s OK to acknowledge feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed or burnt out. In addition to incorporating workplace wellness and incentive programs, organizations can take additional steps to not only identify workplace stressors but offer programs and activities that will educate employees on how to lower stress.
Distribute and analyze yearly employee satisfaction surveys and exit interviews to learn where the workplace stressors are across your organization. It’ll be impossible to educate employees how to reduce stress if the sources aren’t identified. Convey that their opinions do matter, and that well-being is critical to the organization.
Have employee workshops or seminars centering around identifying stress triggers and ways employees can acknowledge stress, identify the sources and create a personalized plan that fits their lifestyle. There are free webinar resources online that can help you.
Encourage employees to create programs or workplace groups that focus on reducing stress. Whether an on-site yoga or meditation class, lunchtime walking/hiking group or other collaboration among interested employees, both encouraging and fostering a commitment to employee well-being will go a long way in showing your employees you have a genuine interest in their mental and physical health.
Take It Outside
Encourage employees to get out of the workplace to lower stress, and let them know it’s okay to do so. Common employer-sponsored initiatives include:
- Reaching out to a local yoga studio or gym about discounts or group pricing for employees, picking a time and place to physically and mentally unwind and recharge outside of work;
- When possible, offer employees the opportunity to work from home, or on an alternative/flexible schedule;
- Offer a bonus day off, catered lunch or other type of reward for the completion of large or stressful projects.
Allison Hutton is an experienced writer, editor, communications professional, researcher and social media consultant. During her more than 15 years of communications and writing experience, Allison has worked with a variety of clients, from small-business owners to Fortune 500 companies. She has an M.S. in entertainment business, a B.A. in communication and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and four children.