Post-holidays and starting the new year can be a stressful time. Debt from spending during the holiday season, lack of exercise and seasonal depression often kick in. Even daily hassles like dealing with traffic can be a source of stress.
Post pandemic stress and anger have also been kicking in, with feelings of anxiety, mood instability and mental exhaustion as symptoms. During the pandemic, workers’ daily stress levels reached a record high—43% of survey respondents across 100 countries claimed to have experienced workplace stress, up from 38% in 2019.
Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, which may increase susceptibility to colds, flu and coronavirus infection. This, in turn, can increase the number of sick days that your workforce takes and lower employee output. Over time, even small stressors can lead to health problems, as employees feel rising pressure and anxiety. Increased stress can eventually lead to burnout, which opens the door to undesired consequences for both employees and employers.
To combat these issues and help your employees thrive, it’s important to create a company culture that helps decrease work-related stress. Companies that offer wellness programs enjoy higher employee engagement, productivity, retention rates, reduced healthcare costs and improved morale. Read on to learn our insightful tips to help you navigate workplace stress in 2023.
Empower Employees to Share Concerns
As a manager you can start by creating an open environment, sharing concerns about challenges you foresee and inviting your team members to reciprocate. It is important to collect feedback and data on how employees are feeling in the workplace to better understand where you can improve.
Sending out an anonymous survey is a great way to give employees the opportunity to voice their concerns in a non-judgemental way. Where do concerns overlap and diverge? How can the team prepare to master the challenge together?A good idea surrounding this concept is to allow employees to share "manuals of me", by writing down when they do their best work. Get employees to write down "when I'm stressed, the best way to help me is..."
Make sure you educate and empower your employees to resist the urge to decrease communication or work in isolation in times of stress and invite people to share their feelings in a safe environment.
Encourage Workplace Wellness
Exercise and healthy living are important tools to combat workplace stress. Employees also feel valued and less stressed when they think you're looking out for their health!
A study reported that 66% of employees felt extremely or very happy when their employer regularly stocked the refrigerator and cupboards, and 83% said that having healthy and fresh snack options was a huge perk. Providing healthy snacks at work—or encouraging and educating employees about healthy snacking—can help to give employees a healthy energy boost.
Exercise can alleviate stress and help employees' focus on their jobs. Exercise has also been seen to boost moods by increasing the production of endorphins. Allowing employees to take exercise breaks during their workday or encourage lunchtime fitness classes or a walk outdoors are all policies that can help boost the number of staff meeting their suggested weekly movement objectives.
Social interactions and relationships heavily influence mood and stress as well. If employees are feeling lonely, isolated, or disconnected from others at work, there are serious consequences for their health—and for the entire company's prosperity. As a manager, you can design a more social workplace to combat loneliness.
Having a work-life balance and the feeling of control over daily tasks can have a huge impact on how stressed employees feel. Allowing employees to set their own schedules, and work hybrid or remote can solve this. When employees choose their hours, they’ll set a schedule that works with their lives at home which alleviates stress.
This is sometimes a given, but make sure you clearly communicate expectations and job roles to minimize workplace stress. Your employees shouldn’t have difficulty in understanding if they are successfully meeting management’s expectations. It’s important that the communication coming from leadership teams is unclouded.
Prioritize Training for Company Leaders
Leadership should deeply understand the benefits of a healthy workplace, both in terms of the company’s and employees' prosperity. Workplace stress related initiatives are much more likely to be adopted and successful if the efforts are led and supported by management. Also, this enables the management team to be aware of the issues and empathize with the employees.
According to Forrester, 70% of executives believe they promote a positive work environment, including work-life balance, encouraging PTO, etc. However, this number isn’t in line with how the professionals working under them feel: Only 53% feel encouraged to take PTO, and only 46% feel supported to take time off for mental health purposes (therapy, etc.).
It’s valuable to learn a variety of skills/resources that can be shared across your organization including: mental wellness training, financial wellness training, health benefits information. Support for these issues must come from the top and will ultimately boost your company's bottom line.
Work takes up a third of the day, and if employees are stressed or going through challenges, there is a real opportunity for you as a manager to configure the workplace or programs to reduce this stress. This will in turn increase retention, boost employee productivity and lead to a more happy workplace. By understanding issues and empathizing with employees who are experiencing workplace stress you can design wellness programs that work for your organization. Learn more about your wellness program options here.