Nearly two-thirds (63%) of employees report feeling stressed, which can lead to other issues if left unchecked. In fact, 32% of employees report that prolonged stress has led to burnout and 59% say their mental health problems (including stress, anxiety, and depression) are affecting them at work.
This is understandable, as many have been confronted with new stressors in recent years. Some may be struggling with COVID-19 health concerns, rapidly rising inflation, and return-to-work plans. Some may also be dealing with other common stressors like family conflicts or chronic illness.
Stress is a normal human reaction to external pressures, but having the right tools can prevent it from escalating to burnout and disruptions at work. Here are some ways you can support stress management to help your team brave today’s common stressors.
Encourage workplace wellness
Making workplace wellness a priority can enable your team members to manage their stress so they can be the best version of themselves at work and at home. Help your team members take better care of themselves by offering a variety of workplace wellness benefits. For example:
- Wellness reimbursement. Self-care comes in many forms. Consider offering a wellness reimbursement so each team member can unwind in a way that makes sense for them. This could cover anything from a gym membership or fitness equipment, to a massage or meditation retreat.
- Financial wellness benefits. Money is a common source of stress for many people. Offer financial wellness benefits such as a 401k, financial counseling, and flexible spending accounts for healthcare and childcare. You can also help your team members deal with inflation by revisiting compensation and offering corporate discounts.
- Mental health benefits. Help your team members prioritize their mental health and deal with stress by offering benefits such as therapy, an employee assistance program (EAP), or a course on stress at work.
Promote work-life balance
Juggling responsibilities at work and at home can be stressful, especially as we continue to navigate a global pandemic. Support your team's work-life balance so they can better manage their priorities and levels of stress. Some ways to do this include:
- Paid time off (PTO). Offer your team members PTO and make sure they’re using it so they can recharge away from work. You might even consider offering additional benefits such as volunteer time off as helping others can reduce stress and improve wellbeing.
- Flexible work arrangements. Being more flexible around where and when work gets done can help your team members better manage personal obligations that need to be done during traditional business hours. You might do this by offering remote work, flex hours, part-time work, or a four day workweek.
- Realistic goals. Set realistic goals so your team members and managers are on the same page and encourage team members to connect with managers if they need to re-prioritize goals or cut back on work. This can help your team members take breaks during the day, leave work at a reasonable hour, and take time off as needed.
Build a great company culture
Reduce workplace stress by building a great company culture where your team members know they’re supported. This should include:
- Recognition. Build a culture of recognition in which all team members are encouraged to recognize and praise one another for their contributions. This can lead to a more positive mindset at work and reduce stress.
- Inclusion and belonging. Microaggressions and outright discrimination can cause enormous stress among team members from marginalized and underrepresented communities. Build a company culture in which every team member feels a sense of inclusion and belonging.
- Team building. Social wellness is an important component of overall mental health and effective stress management. Make time for social activities during work hours so your team members can get to know one another on a more personal level and forge deeper connections.
Create a productive work environment
People spend more time at work than they do nearly anywhere else. The right work environment can help them manage stress, focus, and do their best work—but this might look a bit different for everyone. Here are some ways to create a productive work environment:
- Remote work stipend. If your company offers remote work, you might consider offering a home office stipend and coworking space reimbursement. This can help your team members access a work environment that will best suit their needs.
- Quiet office spaces. If some or all of your team members are already back in the office, try setting aside a few quiet areas if your office layout allows for it. Just as it’s important to have spaces for team members to meet, collaborate, and socialize, it’s equally important to have spaces for them to focus, meditate, and recharge.
- Focus time. Modern technology has made it easier than ever to communicate, but those communications can get in the way of productivity and creativity. Give your team members permission to set an away message so they can focus on their projects without distractions.
Everyone has different stressors and deals with those stressors differently. Ask your team members what triggers stress for them, and what they might need to manage it. Some may not know exactly what they need—or even what’s reasonable. Simply having the conversation helps them understand that you want to support them and are open to ideas and feedback. Keep the lines of communication open and offer a variety of stress management tools to make the biggest impact for your team.