It comes as no surprise – Americans are stressed out to the max! In today’s competitive world we are forced every day to be super heroes. At work, at home, at school, with peers, partners, parents and kids…every which way we turn, the pressures of life can be maddening!
However, numerous studies show job stress is by far the most common source of mental and emotional tension for American adults. According to a 2016 NPR and Harvard study, 36% of workers suffer from work-related stress – costing U.S. businesses a whopping $30 billion a year in lost workdays. The feeling of having lots of demands and little control has been associated with increased rates of heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, sleeplessness, anxiety, muscular tension, depression…in addition to just plain old job burn-out (which can cause strained interactions with co-workers & supervisors). Though there is not one common cause of stress for all (stress triggers are as individual as we are), there are many practices employers can initiate to help their employees reduce stress and be happier, more productive people.
Christina Pazzanese, staff writer for the Harvard Gazette, says “Employers can start by talking to workers about the specific conditions that drive stress.” Having a clear picture of what issues exist will make it easier to address them and allow for positive changes. Plus, the simple act of listening shows compassion, which can typically lead to the feeling of less stress.
Create a positive work setting – with proper lighting, ergonomic equipment, noise control, a clean and healthy workplace. Something as simple as adding a pop of color to grey drab walls can create stress-reducing vibes.
Encourage employees to take their vacation time (and leave work behind when they do)! Not only is real time off rejuvenating for the mind and body, it can motivate people to be more productive once they return to the job.
Get people moving! Exercise is essential for physical and mental wellness. It reduces fatigue and improves alertness and concentration. Encourage workers to take a walk during their lunch break, stretch often during the day and offer discounted gym memberships to promote a healthy lifestyle.
And now for a few less traditional but fun ideas that can bring a burst of de-stressing energy into any workplace:
De-Stress with Pets – there are many local organizations that will bring certified therapy dogs into the workplace. Just a few minutes with a furry friend can do all sorts of good! Check out petpartners.org for ideas on who you can contact in your area.
Corporate Chair Massage – let the masseuse come to you! Melt stress away with easy 5-10 minute chair massages for all of your employees.
Sponsor a Monthly Walking Challenge to help get employees out for a break and moving.
Offer a yoga/mediation class – move the table in your conference room and offer some relaxing stretching and meditation instruction.
Schedule an Ice Cream Social or have the local food truck stop by for lunch. This gets everyone outside for a quick inexpensive treat.
Establish stress-reducing programs in your workplace in 2018, because less stress equals happy and more productive employees.