It’s no secret that managing stress in the workplace is a real challenge.
The American Institute of stress recently reported that 40% of workers say their jobs are stressful. Job stress for American companies is also expensive.
Job Stress costs U.S. industries over 300 billion dollars a year.
Costs included in this are:
- Employee turnover
- Diminished productivity
- Direct medical, legal, and insurance costs
- Workers’ compensation awards as well as tort and FELA judgments
These numbers are only increasing. Three-fourths of the employees surveyed believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.
A second report called “The Attitudes in the American Workplace” found that 80% of workers that they surveyed feel stress on the job. These workers also said they need help in learning how to manage stress.
So what can we do as leaders to improve stress levels in our workplaces?
The place where we should start is seeking to understand why the stress is there in the first place. Many people believe the leading cause of higher stress in the workplace is due to massive workloads. However, there are many other causes of high stress in the workplace that you may or may not be aware of.
Causes of Workplace Stress
Insufficient workloads- workers may feel that their skills are being underused
Conflict at work- between coworkers or managers
A blame culture- setting an expectation of perfection where your workers are afraid to make mistakes
Lack of confidence- in the tasks they’re asked to perform due to skills gap & lack of training
Feeling Isolated or feeling a lack of belonging- feeling under appreciated and lacking emotional support from coworkers & upper management
Concerns or worries- about job security, pay or benefits
Weak or ineffective management- not providing direction and support where needed
Consistency in communication- across the organization
Personal issues- at home or outside the office
There are many reasons why your employees might feel stressed but if you can pinpoint a few recurring threads, you can then come up with an action plan to lower stress at your company.
5 Workplace Stress Prevention & Management Tactics
Workload overload: Provide project management tools that minimize procrastination. Offer a mentoring program where more efficient employees support the ones who are struggling.
Lack of belonging & feeling appreciated as a part of the team: If your company has volunteer time, you could also allow for employees to give some time to a charity together. Try out a social recognition platform with peer to peer recognition. Using a social recognition software communicates to your employees that everyone is an essential part of your team and they’ll be rewarded for their good work.
Feeling Overwhelmed: Encourage & set micro breaks where employees are free to walk away from their work and detach for a short while. They could use this time to take a walk with co-workers or take that much needed personal mental break
Meetings or social overload: Sometimes your employees might feel like they don’t have the time to do their work because they’re being pulled in every direction and not able to focus. If this is the case, occasionally, allow for opportunities for them to work from home or off-site.
Feeling emotionally unsupported: Your staff not only wants to feel appreciated but also listened to. Make the time for direct line managers and team members to do weekly check-ins. Employees want to see that you care and that you’re there when they need you.
We also asked Dr. Kathleen Hall CEO of The Stress Institute what she recommends to help decrease stress in the workplace.
Pro Tips From Stress Expert: Dr. Kathleen Hall
Stress expert, Dr. Hall says, “It is critical to learn stress resilience and stress reduction practices to reduce your stress and create a happier, healthier life personally and at work.
Become stress resilient by learning these scientifically proven stress reduction practices in this S.E.L.F. Care Program®. You will experience better mental and physical health, be a happier person and also be more productive.
Serenity is the opposite of stress. Learn a few simple practices that scientific research has proved lowers blood pressure, lowers your heart rate, gives you an immune boost and reduces the stress hormones in your body. These practices also help your body produce calming healing hormones that de-stress the mind and body.
Do any of these serenity practices for just 2-4 minutes to reduce stress right away. I love all the apps found in the app store for all of the practices listed below, (short meditations, affirmation apps, music you love, and apps with beautiful relaxing nature and sounds, and guided imagery apps). Love CALM app.
Do a short meditation. Over a thousand scientific studies prove practicing a relaxation response creates health benefits and reduces stress.
- Be silent in a comfortable place for a few moments
- Choose a simple short phrase or word that creates calm for you, (such as peace, surrender, let go let God, any favorite saying you love).
- Close your eyes, take deep cleansing breathes, to the count of 1-2-3-4.
- As you inhale, continue to repeat your favorite word or phrase.
- As worries, anxiety or thoughts appear in your mind, continue taking deep breaths and repeat your word/words over and over again.
- Repeat a positive affirmation. Research shows that repeating a positive affirmation when you are stressed reduces the production of stress hormones. Create an affirmation you love, such as, I am strong, I am in control, everything has a purpose.
- Music. Research reveals listening to music creates calming hormones in the body. Download to your iPhone your favorite relaxing music and listen to it for a few minutes when you are stressed and it will create calm.
- Ecotherapy. Research reveals that listening to nature sounds can reduce stress and depression. Download an app with bird, water or nature sounds to your smartphone, iPad or computer and when you are stressed listen to sounds in nature and relax.
- Guided Imagery: Download your favorite guided imagery or just memorize your own. Imagine you are at your favorite place on earth. Visualize yourself there, smell this place, feel your presence, hear the sounds and touch the flora. Your brain will immediately create relaxing hormones.
Research tells us exercise produces relaxing hormones such as endorphins and reduces the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. Exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in reducing stress and depression.
- Walking. Simply going for a walk instantly reduces stress and helps create calm in the body. When you are stressed, walk around your office building or walk up and down the stairs for a few minutes to reduce stress.
- A new piece of furniture. Going to a gym is just impossible for many of us who live overscheduled. Put a tread climber or a treadmill in the corner of your television room. Get on it for 20 minutes as you watch your recordings of your favorite shows. If you choose a 30-minute show by the time you finish your show your exercise time is over. This is also a good way to mentor healthy practices to your children.
- Yoga. We have emerging research on the stress-reducing power of yoga. Memorize 5 simple yoga stretches. Doing some simple yoga stretches in your chair, at your desk, on your bed or on the floor to relax your tense muscles and reduces the stress in your body and refresh your mind. Find your favorite teacher and download their app to your smartphone, iPad or computer.
- Family exercise. Keep a basketball hoop or badminton net in the backyard. When the family is stressed over some situation, get outside and play or go for a walk. Every evening after dinner the entire family goes on a walk together. This creates a family time of communication, intimacy, and play.
Sharing your stress and concerns helps the mind and body relax and renew. Research tells us there is a positive relationship between having community and our health. Pioneering cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish says, “Isolation kills, community heals.”
- Meet with a friend, coworker, or friends at least once a week for a meal. When we have a physical connection with others we produce healthy hormones and they relax us and reduce our stress. You produce endorphins and oxytocin when you meet with someone you care about.
- Get in a group. Create a study group, a card group, an exercise group or some group around some interest you have. When you have friends that support you there is less stress in your life. Reserve your workroom or conference room at your office and begin a group that meets regularly at lunch once a week around a common interest: a book club, gardening, parenting, investing or other interests.
- Phone support. Keep at least three best friends, family or a coworker on your phone list. When you are stressed call a friend, coworker or family member for support and that will de-stress you when you realize you are not alone and someone cares about you.
Food is medicine. Food is healing. Food regulates your moods, your sleep, and your health. Stress can be regulated by what you eat.
- Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast increases your metabolism which helps keep your weight down and helps with your mood swings.
- Omega 3.s. Research shows omega 3’s help with anxiety, stress, and depression. Eat fish, nuts and other foods rich in omega 3’s as much as you can. You can also take omega 3 supplements.
- Vitamin B6. B6’s increase the serotonin in your body. Serotonin calms and heals the body. Make sure you eat bananas, tuna, turkey, salmon, rice, sweet potatoes or sunflower seeds.
- Energy drinks
- More than 1 cup of coffee or tea
- No sugar
- Do not drink lots of alcohol the evening before. When the alcohol wears off your body responds to stress very poorly.
There are a lot of outside & inside factors that contribute to stress in the workplace, and it can be a massive problem. However be encouraged in knowing, the little things that you implement to change your culture now for the better make a big difference in the long run.
If you want help or have any questions about how to make your employees feel more connected and appreciated, that’s our expertise. We’d be happy to connect you with one of our awesome recognition consultants for help.
We wish you a stress-less 2018!