Tips for Managing Workplace Stress
While each work environment is different, organizations and their employees invariably benefit from stress management resources.
To underscore CultureIQ’s eGuide: The Effects of Stress on Company Culture, chronic stress drives detrimental effects on work performance, productivity, company culture, and employee health.
By investing in wellness programs, companies typically save 3 to 5 times more than they spend with outcomes such as heightened productivity and reduced absenteeism. Despite this and other benefits, like improved employee satisfaction and mental health, only 23% of American workplaces offer burnout prevention programs focused on stress management or preventive healthcare.
If you know your company needs to provide more effective wellness resources to reduce workplace stress, but you’re not sure how, here are 5 recommendations:
1. Communicate with your team.
Though stress levels are on the rise, societal stigma teaches us that we should handle everything on our own. Consequently, we struggle to ask for help.
As a leader, you can help to change this stigma in your workplace. Even if your organization does invest in wellbeing, your team may not be aware of the resources available to them. Oh the other hand, if health is observably prioritized in your workplace, individuals may feel more empowered to activate their own wellness plans.
Send a letter from a key leader to employees about the importance of self-care. Include an anecdotal story about a leader of the organization and how she or he maintains consistent self-care. Outline the resources your organization provides. Offer incentives for your employees to begin their own wellness journeys.
2. Coordinate workshops or executive counseling.
A 2016 StressPulse national survey found over 90% of employees are dealing with stress at work over themes like workload, interpersonal challenges, juggling work and personal life, and lack of job security.
As a leader, provide outlets for your team to voice their stress triggers and research evidence-based methods for managing each trigger. Or, consider hiring an expert to lead and design internal supports and resources that best fit your staff’s unique needs.
For example, if workload is your team’s concern, offer workshops on task management, delegation, prioritization, and organizational skills. If work/life balance is your concern, prompt reflection on what a reasonable balance is and encourage each team member to commit to small, consistent, achievable goals to get there.
3. Offer referrals for therapy or counseling.
The 2016 American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey revealed 37% of American adults felt irritable or angry as a result of stress, 42% felt nervous or anxious, 37% felt depressed or sad, and 33% felt consistent worrying.
Luckily, a 2010 scientific review showed that 80% of corporate wellness programs led to a reduction in burnout. However, one obstacle to the success of these programs is insufficient adherence to long-term behavior change.
To address this obstacle, organizations should enhance their wellness programs with refresher courses and encourage consistent support, like regular visits with a mentor, counselor, or therapist. Take it a step further and remove potential barriers by providing workplace counseling or referrals to these resources.
Short-term therapy, long-term therapy, and psychoanalysis all reduce psychiatric symptoms of stress and improve workability. Further, corporate counseling programs have been shown to significantly reduce employee absenteeism and heighten employee mental health and self-esteem.
Explore more ways to reduce workplace stressDownload the free eGuide
4. Host interdisciplinary wellness events.
Techniques like yoga and meditation significantly improve perceived stress, sleep quality, and heart health.
Consider offering workshops that incorporate these mind-body techniques to help employees integrate physical health and emotional grounding with the planning, scheduling, or communication skills they may learn in your other wellness-oriented workshops.
These wellness events can also serve a dual-purpose of team bonding. For example, instead of your weekly happy hour, consider hosting a “yoga hour” once a month.
5. Set a good example.
Studies show that those most committed to change, with the highest expectations for positive outcomes, experience the most success.
As with all company culture initiatives, leaders play a key role in setting these expectations by modeling desired behaviors. To set a good example for others, commit to the change you want to see and the effort needed to get there.
Ray Williams, author and experienced writer, advocates for leaders to seek objective support through his blog Wired for Success. Williams’ article Why Every CEO Needs a Coach identifies how a lack of emotional intelligence, unchecked ego or confidence, or lack of self-awareness can lead to failure for otherwise very talented leaders.
As Williams demonstrates, in order to reach their potential in today’s high-stress environment, “leaders need a confidante, a mentor, or someone they can trust to tell the truth about their behavior.” Writers like Paul Michelman (Harvard Business Review), Douglas McKenna (Forbes magazine), and John Kador (CEO Magazine), and CEOs like Eric Schmidt (Google) and Steve Bennett (Intuit) all agree.
Share your motivations, goals, tribulations, and successes with your team, and create opportunities for your team to share with you.
Change may take time, and is not always easy, but investing in your wellbeing and that of those around you will inevitably improve your organization’s culture and potential to succeed.
The 5 recommendations above are just a starting point. As each workplace is different, so will be each wellness plan.
Have more questions? Want to share a practice that’s worked well for you? Let’s discuss on Twitter!