How to reduce stress in the workplace: 3 tips to start. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and here are three ways employers can reduce stress, boost morale and attract talent for better employee morale and a more productive workplace.
Forty-eight percent of employees have cried at work when stressed out, according to a recent report by Ginger. More than 80 percent of employees say they are stressed on a regular basis and 45 percent of workers under 40 are extremely stressed on a daily basis.
Stress has a significant impact on morale and productivity in the workplace. Employees report that they are fatigued, anxious, lacking focus and engagement, irritated with coworkers, producing lower quality work, missing work and missing deadlines.
Less than 30 percent of the workforce seeks professional help for stress. Others cope with stress through self-help books, or worse, a third of employees don’t do anything. More than 90 percent of workers believe their employer should care about their emotional health and 85 percent look at behavioral health benefits when evaluating a new job.
Reducing stress and supporting mental health in the workplace is a win-win. There are three areas where organizations have an opportunity to tackle stress, boost morale and attract talent.
Boost Benefits to Reduce Stress
The good news is that 50 percent of employees are more likely to do something proactive about their emotional and mental health than they were 5 years ago. The bad news is that even if an organization offers behavioral health benefits, employees might not be able to use them. The most common barriers to care are high copays for mental health services and a lack of providers who are in-network.
Employers are getting creative to break through some of these barriers. Ocean Spray, which makes cranberry drinks and sauces, recently announced that it will waive behavioral health copays for its roughly 2,000 employees beginning this summer.
Other organizations are striving to give employees access to more providers who are in-network by adding onsite behavioral health clinics or telemedicine providers that offer on-demand teletherapy or telepsychiatry.
Reduce Stress with Office Environment
There are many elements of office design that can either increase or decrease stress. A recent study found that natural light or views of the outdoors were the most sought after office design perks, outranking onsite cafeterias, fitness centers and onsite childcare. Another study looks at how different colors can affect employee productivity and communicate messages about your brand.
Employers can also create a workplace culture that’s less stressful by encouraging employees to take five minutes a day to be less stressed. Whether it’s spent meditating, taking a walk, journaling, taking deep breaths, grabbing a coffee, or googling ‘ways to reduce stress’, it’s five minutes where employees can tune into themselves and get back to work with renewed focus and productivity. It’s only five minutes and it demonstrates to employees that you genuinely care about their emotional wellbeing, even if they don’t participate.
Flexibility to Reduce Stress
Half of workers report missing at least one day of work per year due to stress, anxiety, or some other emotional or mental health challenge. Organizations that offer more flexibility around scheduling can give employees an opportunity to slow down when they’re stressed out.
Flexible work arrangements provide employees with a certain flexibility in determining when and where they work. The two most common flexible work policies are work from home policies and unlimited paid leave policies. When an employer develops a new flex work policy it’s best to find the mid-point between organizational demands and workforce needs.