Updated: Nov 24
According to the World Health Organization, stress is defined as feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.
In our fast-paced lives, excessive stress become an added factor in almost every aspect of our lives. It is widely known that extreme stress is serious a health risk and may cause short-term spikes in blood pressure.
The American Psychological Association conducted a survey of American workers and found a high rate of burnout due to stress in the workplace. More than 79% of workers feel very anxious and burned out in an average month directly at work.
The direct correlation of burnout and workplace stress with best work practices and company performance has led to the need to improve the work environment.
According to the 2021 Global Wellbeing Survey conducted by AON that workplace well-being is equally important to company performance.
Employee well-being must be a top priority, and with the right HR strategies and their implementation, HR Managers and leadership can reduce workplace stress and boost the employee engagement in the best possible way.
Stress is defined as the feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.
In this article, we will discuss some strategies you can incorporate into your company's HR policies to reduce workplace stress and improve overall employee well-being.
Create a space for open dialog
Since the workplace is central to any business, it would be a good initiative to create a space for open communication. Research has shown that common stressors usually stem from supervisors and expectations of work and deadlines.
A negative relationship with supervisors can also lead to intense pressure in the workplace, which in turn leads to further workplace stress. As a team leader, you can encourage your employees to be more open about their feelings. Having a constructive conversation about it, goes a long way toward reducing pent-up stress.
Incorporating training modules that promote managing emotions and conflict could help employees recognize their own stressors and deal with them constructively.
Self-awareness of workplace stress and stressors and teaching the necessary skills could contribute to more effective workplace stress management. As the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The long road to reducing anxiety in the workplace begins with open and constructive communication.
Here are a few tips for how individuals act to display open and constructive communication:
Adjust your tone of voice and volume. Always use a positive and moderate voice level.
Ask them how they are doing, their well-being.
Never gossip, lie, or curse.
Use concise and simple words.
Don't argue if the conversation is going nowhere.
Listen actively. Reflect back.
Repeat the most important parts to check if all understand the same thing.
When you listen turn to person speaking.
Ensure physical and mental safety
It is human nature to suffer from increased stress when constantly exposed to stressors. A company should ensure that the work environment provides the highest level of safety for employees' physical and mental capabilities.
One way to do this would be to provide a benefits package. Health insurance and good employee benefits could motivate employees and reduce the workplace stress.
It is the company's responsibility to create a workplace that promotes growth and is not perceived as a threat. This goal could be achieved by establishing clear lists of objectives and setting effective deadlines.
As mentioned earlier, open discussions could also improve employee trust and openness to the company. Ultimately, the goal is to create a workplace that is inviting, challenging, but calm.
The key is to push employees to perform better, but also to allow for mistakes and failures. Regular feedback sessions could help employees understand their work, identify skills they can improve and how the company values their work and time.
Introduce relaxation training
Stress at work is inevitable to some degree. At such times, it makes the most sense to teach skills and ways to better relax, manage stress and prevent your blood pressure to spike.
As the company vouches for the employees' sense of responsibility, relaxation exercises like prayer, meditation and yoga could be a wise choice. Harvard Business Review mentions in an article that says CEOs around the world are increasingly practicing meditation and yoga.
Meditation is an ancient practice that is one of the most tested and proven methods for effective stress management. Establishing a daily meditation or a prayer routine has been shown to increase stress resilience and improve grounding of emotional stress.
Meditation and prayer are a quick workplace stress relievers, and introducing meditation into the workplace helps employee mental health improve. A regular group meditation practice could also help develop patience and better group cohesion among employees when feel overwhelmed and with the CEO and managers.
A corporate culture that creates an environment conducive to growth could be achieved through practice. A dedicated space for meditation practice could help everyone equally. Meditation coaches are an option to try, but newer apps like Headspace could make better use of digital resources in the meantime.
Encourage a healthy Lifestyle
Human Resources may come up with a program that trains team members about the having healthy lifestyles.
Encouraging employees to regularly exercise when they go home, at the company gym, or providing them free gym memberships would help.
Healthy eating habits, sleeping well, taking breaks from work by going a vacation (Don't feel guilty taking your PTO days!), taking deep breathings, simplifying schedules may all positive contribute to your team members to manage stress.
Take regular breaks
While humans can work constantly and reach their limits, the human brain can concentrate for up to 90 minutes at a time. Therefore, motivating employees to take regular breaks is a good option.
Regular breaks are the key to refueling and revitalizing energy when you feel overwhelmed. This measure can also increase productivity, as the brain is immediately reactivated by the short break from work.
Taking a small tea break, a short walk, taking a deep breathing or simply chatting with colleagues for a few minutes can have a positive impact on employees' stress levels. Stressors, especially in the work environment, can be managed efficiently if there are breaks every now and then to improve the atmosphere.
Therefore, the company should motivate people to take breaks to promote mental rest and engage in physical activities to gain more energy. With this strategy, leadership not only gains the trust of employees because it cares about them, but it also makes a positive long-term contribution to employee productivity.
Organize fun retreats
This wonderful idea could reduce the work related stress. The option is an office or company outing to a fun activity or place.
The best time to let go of workplace stress is a fun little activity and a great opportunity to bond with the entire team. A resort, restaurant, playground or a picnic off of the company property may be the right choice.
The variety in the environment and the absence of stressors usually lead to an increase in endorphin levels and a decrease in work related stress levels. Team-building exercises can also be incorporated into the retreat to build unique interpersonal relationships and connections.
Create a space for fun activities.
In addition to providing occasional retreats for your employees outside of the office, you can create a space or room for fun activities.
"Work alone does not make you happy" - this quote fits well here.
There should be enough space and time for recreation and stress relief so that employees can do their best. Some fun activities could be provided on the company premises to give them a break from the stressors and relax them.
This could improve both their physical and overall mental well-being.
Board games, dart boards, video games and ping pong tables could be used in the rooms to serve the purpose.
These arenas distract from work and make them more productive in achieving goals. Employee morale and productivity could be boosted by setting aside time for entertaining activities.
These are several simple steps that companies and managers can take to prevent burnout and severe stress in the workplace.
Employee workplace stress levels are not only harmful to the employee, but also to the company. In times of greater challenges and newer developments, there are many stressors, and optimal management ensures success.
A satisfied and productive employee is the right measure of a company's success.