Stress can have extremely negative consequences on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing, and while there are plenty of factors contributing to an individual’s stress levels, the workplace is often a critical contributing factor.
This week marked the start of National Stress Awareness Week, a week devoted to increasing awareness of stress both in and out of the workplace. The goal of the week is also to equip employers with better tools and resources to decrease the negative effects of workplace stress and to give employees strategies for reducing stress.
Research carried out by The Stress Management Society found that 64% of employees have below average or poor mental wellbeing, while 48% of respondents have taken a day off work for their mental health. And while stress cannot be completely eliminated, too much stress, without doubt, takes its toll on employees, and thus the overall health of a company.
Some of the dominant causes of workplace stress include increasingly heavy workloads, limited time to focus on wellbeing and slow, out-of-date technology. A poor working environment was another negative factor, with 95% of workers stating that their physical work environment is important for their wellbeing, mental health, mood and productivity.
Businesses can implement a number of measures within the workplace to reduce the levels of stress experienced by employees:
Provide flexible working options
The workplace is changing significantly, and with rapid advances in technology and ultra-fast internet connections from almost anywhere, it has never been easier to implement flexible working measures, including flexible working hours, work from home opportunities, flexitime or job sharing. All of this helps employees to create a better, healthier work-life balance, and studies have found that flexible workers feel more engaged, motivated and productive.
Create an inspiring environment
The most successful companies in the world invest in their office environment for optimum employee satisfaction and wellness. From standing desks and in-office childcare to gyms and yoga rooms, some of the world’s most famous offices even include nap rooms, fitness classes and massage therapy.
Though you may not have the resources to offer the above, even implementing simple measures will create a more supportive working environment. From up-to-date technology and comfortable furniture to improved lighting and a fun break room, small but simple changes allows your employees to let loose during the day, which will lead towards a healthier, happier workforce.
Encourage exercise and meditation
There are proven links between exercise and mental wellbeing, so adapting the workspace to make time for this will make people more active, mobile and social. Meditation is also a huge stress reliever and even just ten minutes a day of mindfulness, meditation or quiet time helps people to work more effectively whilst reducing anxiety and stress.
Plan outings and teambuilding activities
Organising outings and teambuilding activities increases motivation, improves productivity and helps employees to develop better relationships with their colleagues. This gives them a greater sense of wellbeing, which means they are more likely to look forward to coming to work.
Offer a supportive workplace culture
You should provide support to each and every individual by offering regular catch-ups to check in on their well-being and identify any issues, whether at work or elsewhere in their life. Offering continued support, as well as putting a specific action plan in place when needed, is a great way to prevent a situation from escalating to the point where the employee feels unable to cope.
Stress management for employees is vital to your organisation’s success
Improving mental wellbeing in the workplace leads to heightened employee happiness, and, in an age where the supply and demand for talent are incredibly competitive, it has never been more important to develop and sustain a positive working environment that focuses on stress management.