In the UK, ‘powering through’ is a reality of our working culture, but can often lead to exhaustion, stress, or worse: burn out. So it’s no surprise that the negative effects of stress have recently become a talking point among companies and business owners.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 28% of us feel less productive because of stress, 23% of us compromise our health to get work done, and a worrying 16% of us compromise relationships for our jobs.
Showing your employees that you care about how they feel at work is the first step to combating workplace stress, but it can’t stop there. In this article, we’ll explore workplace stress solutions to help companies prevent, identify, and remove stress before they spiral into a less productive, more absent, and potentially resentful workforce.
Schedule a wellbeing talk
With stress-related illness and absence on the rise, corporate wellness has become a growing part of how many companies function. Scheduling a wellbeing talk may seem like a expensive triviality, however: they give employees techniques to recognise and manage their stress. Plus, speakers also provide CEOs with pointers and next steps on how to implement employee wellbeing strategies, to keep office stress levels at a low.
Finding an adviser that can help implement a wellbeing plan in your office shows you’re being proactive about your employees’ wellbeing. So your consideration isn’t considered a one-off, appoint senior managers to carry these plans out: ensuring that these checks are being continued effectively.
This won’t just stamp out signs of stress early, it will also teach your employees stress management and coping techniques, and show managers how to spot the signs too.
Healthy snacks and caffeine-free drinks
A warning sign we’re stressed is when we reach for sugary treats, or high caffeine drinks like coffee or sodas for a quick boost.
However, sugar make stress worse by causing our energy levels to spike and crash suddenly, leading to higher anxiety levels overall.
What’s more, caffeine and stress both raise our cortisol levels, so although caffeinated drinks can boost productivity after a bad night’s sleep, too much can make us more stressed than we need to be.
Provide healthy snacks like fresh fruit deliveries, unsalted nuts, uncaffeinated fruit teas, and juices for an inexpensive way to improve overall wellbeing and encourage healthier productivity.
Do your employees often eat in front of their screens at lunch? Do you look up and find them scrolling through their phones regularly? These are signs that your workplace isn’t practicing mindfulness – a practice that’s proven to increase our focus and promote self-regulation.
Introducing your workplace to mindfulness can enhance productivity, and improve your employees’ ability to enjoy their work, thus reducing stress. It doesn’t matter whether your next mindfulness session is led by an outside expert, or by a mindfully-savvy team member, mindfulness and meditation sessions have proven benefits in office environments – and are a great team building exercise too.
Conduct employee wellbeing surveys
Risk assessments, in the form of anonymous employee surveys, are the quickest and easiest way to address psychological hazards at work. Here, you can address anything: whether it’s how people feel about their workload, their job role, the office, and even their management.
Encourage employees to be honest in their answers, emphasising that their opinions are important to you and improve the future of the company. This is an effective way to stave off staff resentment and stress, by showing you care about their wellbeing, and that you’re constantly looking to improve company operations for their benefit.
Encourage a social workplace
We’ve all heard the phrase: “I’m here to work, not to make friends.” However, humans are social creatures. Work-life balance, even while at work, has an impact on overall happiness and productivity.
The importance of a social workplace is clear: 58% of men and 74% of women will pass up a higher salary if they don’t get on with co-workers.
Therefore, encourage teams to work cross-channel. Have your managers take their teams for lunch, and take the initiative to organise work socials. Another fun way to encourage social integration is to introduce a ‘buddy system’ for new starters. Partner new employees with a buddy from another team, who will guide them through their first few weeks at your company. This may just forge some unlikely friendships, and give your employees the feeling that they’re supported and looked after.
Lighten the workload
Many small businesses find themselves working with limited funds and resources. But as your business grows, and the admin starts piling up, you may be tempted to ask an employee to take that work off your hands – even if it isn’t part of their job role.
According to the World Health Organisation, delegating work to an employee that’s outside their expertise is a main contributor of workplace stress. Therefore, avoid setting your team tasks that they weren’t hired to do, and are additional to their title.