The work that we do on a day to day basis will not always be rosy. Often, we do things that push us to the limits, make us upset, or cause us to be stressed. What happens when a stressor becomes too much to handle, though?
A small amount of stress for a short period can lead to workers kicking into high gear and getting things done. The problem comes because many employees aren’t able to manage their stress and create a more calm work environment for themselves. Your managers may also be compounding this stress because they aren’t trained on proper stress management.
Our job in human resources is simple in theory, figure out what programs we can put in place to remove bad stress and create an environment that is calming for employees. In practice, though, creating this environment takes time, effort, and energy. Today we wanted to cover four simple strategies that will help you reduce stress in your office.
Why Stress In The Office Is Bad For Business
Before we share some simple strategies you can use to reduce office stress, let’s talk about why it’s bad for business. We know in a roundabout way why stress is harmful, but I wanted to cover some specific examples of why you should focus on reducing workplace stress.
Stress Can Cause Unnecessary Absenteeism
We want our employees to take off days when necessary. We give a certain amount of PTO or vacation time for a reason. Taking PTO can become detrimental to the health of your company at some point though. For example, what if a ton of your employees decided to take their time off randomly during the middle of an enormous deadline? While they may be following office protocol as far as the amount of time off they get a year, you don’t want a large number of your employees asking for time off during an upcoming deadline.
Stress Can Lead To Physical Violence In The Workplace
While physical violence doesn’t usually occur, it is a possibility. Everyone handles stress differently, and you are never sure how someone will handle intense pressure. It’s important to keep our employees level of stress as low as possible, so we mitigate the possibility of violent flare-ups.
Stress May Cause Employee Turnover
People cannot handle prolonged stress. Eventually, you have to give up what’s causing your anxiety for your wellbeing. If you don’t take time and resources to reduce employee stress, you could cause issues with your employees that are too large for them to overcome. You don’t want workplace stress to cause turnover in your company.
Stress Leads To Other Issues For Your Employees
Sometimes stress doesn’t lead to your employees quitting or taking time off, but it impacts them in other small ways. Your employees may:
- Lose sleep
- Be driven to tears by the stress they feel at work
- Raise their voice or say something they don’t mean to a coworker
While these things may not be as horrible as physical violence, they impact workplace morale. You don’t want the stress your employees to feel to escape in any negative ways.
Get A Baseline Measurement For Stress In Your Office
There are a variety of ways to measure workplace stress. It is essential to take some time to survey and understand your employees, so you know how big of an issue stress is at your company.
If you send out a workplace survey, add in some questions about workplace stress. Make sure that everything you send out is anonymous. If you ask questions like their age, how long they’ve worked at the company, what department they work in, et cetera you can use that data to create more robust data about workplace stress at your company. Are workers who’ve been at your company for a while more or less stressed? Does stress tend to impact some ages more than others?
Once you have your data, you can decide how quickly you need to act on creating fixes for workplace stress as well as which programs would work best for your employees. As you work on reducing stress in the office, continue to ask the same survey questions so you can study workplace trends over time.
Four Strategies To Reduce Office Stress
Now, let’s quickly talk about four strategies that will help you reduce stress in the workplace. Strain doesn’t have to be constant at your company. These strategies will help your employees deal with stress better.
Focus On Stress Reduction With A Wellness Program
Creating wellness programs are a hot topic these days in human resources. We are beginning to understand how employee wellness impacts our workplace, and that’s a great thing. Wellness programs affect our company in a variety of ways through reducing stress, creating stronger employees, and cutting down on costly healthcare expenses.
Wellness doesn’t mean shaming anyone who doesn’t fit the standard of health. It means helping everyone feel comfortable, make changes that are on par with their abilities, and creating a healthier team. Many companies fail when they impose a wellness program that’s too rigid. Create a plan that makes everyone feel welcome to invest in themselves and see results.
Create A Meditation/Relaxation Space In Your Office
If you have space in your office (perhaps from creating a paperless HR system), you should create a room that helps your employees relax. These recharge rooms don’t have to be fancy or expensive. Especially if you create a meditation room, your expenses could be simple: a few comfortable chairs; a speaker for playing quiet, relaxing music; and lighting fixtures that can be dimmed down for ultimate relaxation.
Overall the purpose of these rooms is to give your employees a space to wind down so that they can rest their brain and return to work with renewed vigor for the activities you have in store.
Encourage Your Workers To Track Their Stressors
When you track what makes you stressed out, you can begin to see patterns, anticipate stress, and create coping mechanisms. Give your employees a journal where they can track when they feel stressed. After about 2-4 weeks of following their stress, give them instructions to read through their entries. From there you can identify patterns and help them create coping mechanisms that will mitigate those stressors. If they enjoy the insight they get from tracking their stress, let them know that they can repeat this activity. If they do the exercise at different times of the year, they will get even more accurate results.
Let Your Workers Utilize Stress Reduction Techniques That Calm Them Down
Last, but not least, you should let workers use the stress reduction techniques that calm them down. As long as it doesn’t impact the overall wellbeing of the office, you should feel comfortable letting your employees do what works for them. This may mean allowing items in the office like music, fidget spinners, slime, and other random trinkets. Overall, as long as the office still functions properly, we should allow our employees more freedom to work how they work best.
Conclusion: You Can Reduce Office Stress
Today we covered a wide range of topics. We talked about why stress is bad for your employees, how to get a baseline measurement for tension in the office, and some simple strategies you can use to reduce stress amongst your employees.