For many American adults, work and stress have become synonymous.
The American Institute of Stress reports that about 25% of employed Americans say they feel stressed at work, and 40% say their jobs are very or extremely stressful.
While these statistics are unfortunate, employers can take the opportunity to be proactive in mitigating workplace anxiety and tension. While the benefit of helping people reduce stress is itself a good thing, companies that provide their staff with health and wellness programs can reduce the financial burden of lowered productivity, lost workdays, and extra visits to the doctor.
Creating a health and wellness culture for employees doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. Here are four ways that businesses can help staff reduce stress and be proactive about their health.
1. Create a Mentoring Program
Mentoring is establishing a relationship between an experienced employee and a new one. A knowledgeable mentor can help the new employee learn the company culture and the responsibilities of a new position so he or she can assimilate quickly. The mentor might be a manager who also functions as an evaluator or an experienced colleague in a position similar to the new hire.
A mentor can ease the stress associated with starting a new job. Acting as a sounding board, the mentor can help the employee with both broad and specific questions, like how to sign up for insurance benefits or best practices for increasing recurring revenue.
The benefits of a mentoring program might be obvious to the new hire, but the mentor reaps benefits as well. He or she can find satisfaction in sharing knowledge and helping someone succeed.
2. Encourage Fitness
While it's common knowledge that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy, it's also true that sitting at a desk at work doesn't help. Companies can encourage employees to get moving by creating a fitness program. This program can take many forms. Some companies create a corporate fitness challenge. For example, participants might be challenged to take a certain number of steps in a day, use the stairs, or complete a workout.
Accountability and friendly competition are the keys that make a fitness challenge successful. Other ways to encourage employees to exercise are planning a walk or hike, starting a softball team, or providing a gym membership.
3. Volunteer Together
One proven way to reduce stress is to establish meaningful relationships with others. Volunteering is an excellent way to do just that. It can increase employees' self-confidence, give them a sense of purpose, connect them to others, and create friendships both inside and outside the workplace.
While some staff members may be reluctant to volunteer on their own, providing a workplace program may encourage them to give it a try. Some companies may be able to provide time off during the day to volunteer, encouraging those who may not want to volunteer after hours.
4. Communicate Frequently
One of the best ways to help employees mitigate stress is by simply talking to them. Create time to meet with staff members regularly one on one, whether or not you suspect workplace tension. An employee who is anxious and stressed might need 30 minutes to sound off, ask questions, or get a second opinion — and they may have been afraid to come to you without an invitation.
A company with a culture of transparency and open communication provides a strong base of support. Workers will feel confident and capable with they know what is expected of them, feel comfortable asking questions, and have the support of management. Regular staff meetings can help with this. They are a chance to get everyone on the same page, and they can even build a community if colleagues are allowed time for small talk.
Whether your company can make sweeping changes or just a few small things at a time, it is possible to help reduce workplace stress and anxiety. Helping your staff find ways to improve both physical and mental health will go a long way toward increased productivity and positive company culture.
Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer in both physical and mental health. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.