Work is cited as one of the most common causes of stress for adults worldwide, with 83 percent of the workforce in the US and 914,000 UK workers experiencing it. The need for employers to address this is becoming more and more pressing, especially in a post-pandemic world.
There is particular emphasis on employee stress and how this can impact on a business’s productivity. Given these ongoing pressures, how can business leaders alleviate workplace stress?
Recognize the main barriers to a stress-free workplace
One of the most significant steps to reducing the stress that your workforce is experiencing is by recognizing and understanding the concerns that the team is facing.
The day-to-day pressures of the workplace are a significant barrier to a stress-free environment and increasing workloads put staff under pressure, with 76 percent naming it a cause for negative stress at work. For dynamic and fast-paced companies, quick growth is great for the business, but may leave employees with extra work and responsibilities above their capacity.
It is important to realize that for many, work-related stress is very common, but it can also be the case that the anxiety employees are experiencing comes from outside of the workplace. Whether this is because of family situations, mental health concerns, money, health or sleep loss, the factors that cause stress are plentiful and wide-ranging – so being a considerate business leader and taking the time to check in with your team is essential.
Encourage mindfulness in the workplace
A mindful workplace provides a solid foundation to encourage the building of strong, trusting workplace relationships. This will also produce an open and honest culture in which communication can be more effective. As a business leader, encouraging mindfulness in the workplace is an integral way in which you can help to alleviate the stress your team may be experiencing. This can stem from mentoring and wellbeing workshops that can help to educate and support staff, for example.
In creating a culture of inclusion, you can develop a strong and supportive team which means that deadlines can be met with efficiency and workloads managed and prioritized effectively. Mindfulness also allows your team to further develop interpersonal skills, which are extremely effective in boosting morale and increasing workplace productivity.
Implementing this company-wide can also take a focus on workplace wellness schemes. These encourage employees to take a step back and think about their personal wellbeing and health. Offering benefits in this way such as gym memberships, inclusive health insurance, and ongoing wellbeing workshops are a great way to help your team relieve the heavy load they may be carrying on their shoulders.
Ensure workplace recognition is company-wide
Receiving workplace recognition can go a long way boost staff morale and happiness. Praise is great and awards a job well done. By recognizing the contribution that each of the team makes to the business, you can increase employee engagement and productivity, whilst helping to lessen some stress.
A good business leader will acknowledge that employees are the beating heart of the business, and will do well to recognize their achievements. This can come in the form of one-to-one chats on a regular basis, employee reward and recognition systems, announcements at team meetings or peer-to-peer conversations. Whichever way you choose to provide recognition to your employees, you will notice the benefits.
Take a break
The value of taking breaks and annual leaves is not reinforced or encouraged enough. It is important for your team to take regular breaks every day and vacation days in order to re-focus and step away from high pressure situations that may be causing ongoing workplace stress.
Ensure you promote taking a full lunch break or suggest that workers take a short break when the strain and stress gets too intense. Additionally, ensuring you have a fair annual leave package will ensure that your staff takes some time away from the office.
Mindfulness and taking regular breaks fall hand-in-hand and focusing on wellbeing is important to ensure a healthy and stress-free workplace.
Implement flexible and remote working
Companies all around the world are now embracing flexible working as part of their core operations. This comes in a range of forms, from working from home to working hours that suit employee’s lifestyle best.
This is a fantastic way to help combat stress, as offering the chance to make the most of remote or flexible working can help your team to manage their work-life balance. In turn, this can aid in decreasing stress levels, boosting morale, and creating a positive work environment. In fact, flexible working has become so important to worker’s wellbeing that the UK Government is putting a new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill through to parliament that will allow employees the right to request work flexibility from the first day of employment, giving them more freedom to dictate how and where they can work from the get go.
There will always be workplace stress, however a good leader is able to manage it to ensure that employees are as happy as possible. Inclusive organizations ensure that the wellbeing of their workers is a priority for the company, and this includes helping them cope with their stressors and supporting them whenever the issue arises.