8 Ways Employers Can Encourage Stress Management in the Workplace

Nov 2, 2021

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but stress at work can be hazardous. When stress gets out of control, it can lead to issues like decreased productivity and increased absenteeism.  In 2018, employers spent $300 billion annually for health care and missed work days due to workplace stress.  The good news is there are many ways employers can take steps to help manage stress in the workplace. In this blog post, we will explore some ways employers can encourage stress management in their company culture today!

What causes stress in the workplace?

The CDC defines workplace stress as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the job requirements do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the employee.” Startingly, a whopping 40% of 26,000 workers polled in a recent study reported that their jobs were extremely stressful.

The leading causes of workplace stress include an overwhelming workload and personality issues between co-workers.    In addition, stress can be especially dangerous for those who manage people because it can create a domino effect that leads to tension among employees and poor company culture.

What are the symptoms of workplace stress?

There is no one symptom associated with stress in general or work-related stress specifically. However, some common symptoms include fatigue, headaches, stomach upset, depression, and anxiety. In addition, many employees report irritability or anger and feeling on edge as common psychological symptoms of workplace stress.

How can stress management help the company?

Stress has a significant negative influence on overall productivity and profitability, yet many companies are still unaware of how stress affects the bottom line. Companies that recognize the business impact of stress and take measures to address it have seen excellent outcomes.  According to the Global Workplace Wellness Survey, organizations that provide support for reducing stress levels have a significantly lower turnover rate- 6% versus the national average of 38%, and half the average rate of employees reporting persistent job strain.

What are some stress management strategies for companies?

There are many stress management methods employers can implement in their company culture. Some of the most effective stress reduction techniques include:

  • New hire training programs that teach employees about workplace stress and coping mechanisms. These programs create positive, open communication in an environment where workers feel comfortable talking with leadership about stress triggers.
  • Providing ample opportunities for leadership and personal development courses so employees can advance in their careers and get new perspectives on managing stress at work. Courses on leadership, emotional intelligence, time management, and conflict resolution are topics that can help provide helpful tools to manage stress.
  • In today’s world, flexible workplace policies are often a given.  Embracing these flexible workplace models can allow workers the freedom to better balance life responsibilities with day-to-day stressors at work. If developing a hybrid or remote plan isn’t an option for your business, creating a stress-free room where employees can relax can offer a sanctuary to de-stress during the workday.
  • Create a culture that fosters healthy workplace balance by honoring boundaries during off-hours. For example, at PwC, when employees check their work email on the weekend, a note pops up reminding them that it is the weekend.  This dedication to work-life balance is paying off with their employees.

What other stress reduction strategies do you recommend?

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to stress management. Instead, employers should take a holistic approach and implement organizational change at every level to reduce stress levels among employees across their workforce, including managers and leaders. Some additional stress management strategies to consider include:

  • Onsite stress reduction programs like yoga, meditation classes, or relaxation rooms.
  • Employee assistance programs that provide access to professional counseling services.
  • Stress education for employees, including stress management courses that teach about the biological and psychological effects of stress on health.
  • Manager training programs that teach managers best practices in coaching team members through high-stress periods.

Stress is a common feeling in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be. Employers can take steps to ensure stress management efforts are successful and offer their employees stress relief opportunities throughout the workday. Of course, it’s essential to measure outcomes so you know whether stress reduction strategies are working for your company. Still, a commitment to these strategies will benefit your company and your employees in the long run.

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