Workplace stress is something all of us have to deal with, regardless of whether we work from home or the office. It is present everywhere, no matter whether our jobs are creative or analytical. Everyone experiences workplace stress. Unfortunately, if not dealt with properly, stress can easily pile up and start affecting health, productivity, and our overall lifestyle.
So, what are the simple things every employer can do to reduce workplace stress? There are 10 simple things employers can do to reduce stress, encourage communication, set up the workspace, leave policies, provide flexible working hours, allow work from home, provide access to stress management training, teach breathing techniques, lights stretching, and meditation, allow pets in the office and bring fun into the work environment.
With luck, these should help your office maintain its healthy energy and avoid the pile-up of unwanted stress.
While we will happily list the things every employer can do to reduce workplace stress, we should mention that stress is a serious subject. It can result in issues like:
• Sleep deprivation
• Hair loss
• Panic attacks
• Substance abuse
• Unhealthy eating habits
• Unstable emotional state
• Inability to concentrate
• Loss in productivity
These are just some of the many issues that can come forth due to stress. Psychologists and psychotherapists spend years learning how to help people cope with stress and reduce its contributors. So, even though you should do what you can to help your co-workers, don’t expect them to always be happy and cheerful. If a co-worker is going through some serious issues, consider lending a helping hand and talking to them about seeking professional help.
One of the things that we seem to be lacking the most in the workspace is communication. Since people tend to be overburdened by their work, they don’t seem to find the necessary time to relax and enjoy a nice conversation with a co-worker. While a simple conversation may not seem like much, it is actually one of the easiest ways we deal with stress. Every issue or misfortune will seem smaller if we have the opportunity to share it with our peers.
So, one of the things every employer can do to reduce workplace stress is to encourage communication. To do so, you should set up a lounge area for your workers where they can come to relax. Ideally, you will have refreshments in that area, as well as some comfortable furniture. Your goal is to provide a calm, refreshing place where your employees can talk a bit about what is stressing them out.
Set up the workspace
If you are new to office design, it might seem strange that office layout plays a role in stress. However, multiple studies have shown that the space around us has a profound effect on us. So, if you are to reduce stress at work, you need to declutter first. You can easily rent commercial storage to obtain clutter-free space at work. According to research, if you manage to declutter, you will help your employees relax and focus. Especially if you also incorporate wall color and natural lights properly. The more you look into it, the more you will see that our surroundings have a tremendous effect on us. Decluttering and painting are things every employer can do to reduce workplace stress.
Set up comprehensible leave policies
If you manage to pick the right people for the job, you should have capable, responsible people working for you. Unfortunately, surprising circumstances do occur, even to the best of workers. Especially if they have kids or need to take care of their parents. Therefore, if you want to lessen the stress that your employees experience, make sure to have decent leave policies. Working can be surprisingly stressful if you know that you cannot take sick leave, or opt for a long break without a lot of hassle. So, try to set up a system with your workers where they can leave the office when need be, without their absence disrupting the workflow. A good system will do wonders for both productivity and overall employee motivation.
Flexible work hours
If you are situated in a large city, you probably already know how stressful traffic can be. Now consider that your employees have to beat the rush hour in order to not be late for work. Just imagine the stress that this piles on your employees, especially during high traffic hours. So, if you want a straightforward way to reduce stress, consider implementing flexible work hours. By not having to worry about being late, your workers will experience much less stress. Furthermore, because they can alter their working hours, they will be able to deal with issues outside of work more easily. So, the more flexible hours you can give your workers, the better.
Work from home
The recent circumstances with COVID-19 have shown us that a surprising amount of work can be done from home. Therefore, if your employees prefer taking their work home, help them out. Some people perform much better if they have the liberty to come into the office only when necessary. Forcing them to come in every day increases their stress levels and lowers their productivity. So, if you want to help your workers have a more stress-free work environment, give them the option of remote work. Modern software should allow you to track their progress and help them see whether working from home helps.
Incorporate stress management techniques
Both the bad and the good thing about stress is that we have been dealing with it for a long time. And in that time we’ve developed some techniques that were shown to help in either dealing with stress or lowering it. So, if you want to help your employees have a more stress-free workspace, here are some useful techniques that you should teach them to practice:
Multiple studies have shown that deep breathing can have a profound effect on your nervous system, especially when it comes to stress. By slowly inhaling and exhaling a dozen times you bring in the fresh air and signal to your body to relax.
If your workplace requires that your employees spend a lot of time in a sitting position, you should find a way to encourage them to stretch. Every 45 minutes to an hour, they should stand, walk around, and stretch their muscles. Some offices even employ Yoga teachers to help workers deal with tense muscles.
If you don’t have much time to relax, and you are under a lot of stress, the best thing to do is to practice a bit of meditation. To do so, you don’t need any mantras or complicated positions. Instead, simply sit where you are, close your eyes, and try to observe the stress within you. Get in touch with your emotions and your body and simply try to see where the stress is. No visualizations, no extra thoughts. The more time you can spend observing your stress, the more likely it is that it will go away.
Consider having an office pet
There is hardly a thing in the world that helps reduce stress as much as pets. A single office cat or a dog can do wonders for overall morale and stress. If it is a friendly animal, your employees will enjoy playing with it, petting it, and taking care of it. Some offices get so attached to their pet that they insist on keeping them no matter what. In fact, certain office relocations wouldn’t be as difficult for Divine Moving and Storage if people didn’t insist on relocating office pets. So, you can imagine how useful they are for office morale. The one thing you’ll have to figure out though is what to do with the pet during holidays.
Bring in fun elements into the office
While you should encourage your employees to be as concentrated and efficient as possible in the workplace, you shouldn’t go overboard. A workspace area is not a factory floor and every aspect of your office shouldn’t be only tailored for work. Instead, consider adding some fun elements that your employees can enjoy.
One of the things every employer can do to reduce workplace stress is to have a room where your employees can have a bit of fun. As we mentioned, having a lounge area is a good idea. But, you can take this a step further. A foosball table, a gratitude journal, or a dammit doll are just some of the many stress relief elements you can put in. If you have the necessary room, you can even consider adding a small gym where your employees can sweat the stress out. Just make sure to have a shower as well.