Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Stress has always been present in the workplace. If not checked, stress has profound effects on our biology, leading to physical and mental health challenges. In addition, stress negatively impacts work productivity, company culture, and an organisation’s ability to meet its business goals.
Those that suffer stress chronically start to notice burnout - which then results in increases in absenteeism and contributes to staff turnover. When stress turns into burnout, not only are employees less engaged and productive, they’re also less satisfied with their jobs.
As a business owner, or a manager, or even a fellow human being - we need to consider ways to reduce stress and make life as comfortable for others as we can. This will result in many benefits and in some ways contribute to a better outcome for you also by working alongside happier people!
Preventative mental health training
Do not wait for your team to experience stress, as this can often be then lead to other psychological disorders. Provide education to the team on the impacts of stress and how to recognise this in themselves. If you already have a wellness initiative, consider how you can expand your existing program to incorporate mental health.
Lead by example
Encourage open conversations with your teams. Talk openly about your own experiences - an honest talk from a leader is going to be well received and make it easier for others to follow.
Organising guided meditations or training on mindfulness techniques can help employees implement better stress management practices throughout their workday. In addition, creating a “mindfulness break” as part of organisational culture can go a long way.
Instead of conducting meetings at desks, consider what could be taken outside and the benefit of fresh air, a long walk and an opportunity to talk during the walk.
Disconnecting from work
Encourage your teams to switch off after work hours. Some companies are taking a more radical approach that sees email servers switched off over certain hours to prevent employees from working. Others take a more gentle approach; it could be as simple as a 15 min group meeting or end of day reflection and have managers provide this insight. Leaving work with a tidy desk and everything put away can also help.
Create a calming work environment
Create a tranquil working environment by adding indoor plants to your desktop. Plants can have a soothing effect and make your space feel calm. Soothing sounds and smells also have an impact on productivity in the workplace and, therefore, stress.
Regular reminders to drink plenty of water, staying hydrated is good for the brain. We all know a healthy brain will be far less responsive to external stimuli that may cause stress than a brain that is less healthy.
Have a workplace cry!
In Japan, it is not that unusual to be offered classes that encourage you to cry. Crying comes about as a response to stress, so having a cry will help you feel good after! In some crying classes, a variety of short films are displayed, and employees are encouraged to cry.