Stress can have a profound effect on employees. It can affect sleep, relationships, overall health, productivity and sense of well-being.1 The American Institute of Stress found the main causes of workplace stress include the workload, juggling several projects or assignments at once, relationships and job security.2
Is this starting to sound or feel familiar? If so, it would be helpful to learn a few strategies for managing stress in the workplace.
Knowing the signs of stress
Know the signs of stress so you can offer your employees different ways to reduce stress and the effects it might be having on them, both at work and home.
While employers can’t control everything in the workplace to avoid stress altogether, you can identify stressors and create a game plan to help your employees reduce the impact it might have on their personal and professional lives.
How stress might affect employees: warning signs3
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Problems sleeping or getting a good night’s sleep
- Consistent fatigue
- Loss of interest in work
- Consistent pain—neck pain, back pain, muscle spasms, stomach problems, tension headaches
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs to cope
- Social withdrawal
Stress management in the workplace
Now that you can identify some of the signs of stress, take steps to help lessen its impact and create strategies for supporting your employees to manage stress in the workplace.
Strategy 1: Encourage your employees to practice mindfulness while at work. Mindfulness is a great tool that allows people to stay present. You pay attention to your thoughts, but you do not judge them or act on them. Through mindfulness, you can concentrate on your priorities even with distractions around you.4 You can learn more about mindfulness in our previous article, How to incorporate mindfulness meditation in the workplace. Be sure to share the information with your team.
Strategy 2: Urge your employees to take a break and step away. Most companies have paid time off (PTO) plans, so employees can take a vacation or plan a trip. However, if employees are experiencing stress causing physical and mental pain, they might need to step away sooner rather than later. Encourage your employee showing signs of stress or burnout to take a few days off immediately. Advise employees to turn a weekend into a 4-day weekend or take the afternoon off if they can’t take the entire day. If your employee can’t take a half-day or full-day, suggest that they consider walking away from their computer each day for 15 to 30 minutes. They should try using that time to read a book, meditate, exercise, take a walk or catch up on a hobby they enjoy. Bottom line: Normalize that it’s important to step away from their desk to decompress.
Strategy 3: Having a third party to speak to can also help relieve some stress.5 Encourage employees to reach out and talk to someone. Coworkers probably have a pretty good understanding of how other employees feel and why they feel that way. Employees should consider leaning on them for support to help buffer job stress. Have them reach out to their friends and family, as well. Employees need to have a support network both inside and outside of the workplace. Lastly, if employees need more help, they should reach out to your human resources team to discuss any mental health benefits and other well-being resources your company may offer.
Strategy 4: Emphasize the importance of sleep. When employees skimp on sleep, they are not as productive or creative, nor do they have the ability to focus as they would if they had a good night’s rest.6 Employees should try to aim for 8 hours a night and use these helpful tips to improve sleep:
- Turn off screens 1 hour before bedtime
- Avoid stimulating activities like checking email or catching up with work before bed
- Focus on reading or listening to soft music
- Keep lights dimmed
Strategy 5: Highlight habits that contribute to workplace stress. Understand what employees can stop doing to reduce stress in the workplace. For example:
- Resist perfectionism and make healthy and obtainable goals.
- An unorganized workspace and tasks can cause distraction easily and increase anxiety.
- Encourage employees to better realize and voice their work boundaries.
These strategies for managing stress in the workplace will help employees combat the warning signs you may already be experiencing.
Find out more about the Go365® personalized health and well-being program and the tools available to relieve and minimize workplace stress. Contact your Humana sales rep or request more information about Go365’s wellness program by filling out this formOpens in new window.
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1 Jeanne Segal, et al., “Stress at Work”, HelpGuide, last accessed July 26, 2021, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-in-the-workplace.htm# Opens in new window.
2 Dominique Fluker, “4 Ways Great Managers Can Help Reduce Stress in the Workplace”, Glassdoor, last accessed July 26, 2021, https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/4-ways-great-managers-can-reduce-stress/ Opens in new window.
3 “Stress at Work.”
4 Holly J. Bertone, “Which Type of Meditation Is Right for Me?” Healthline, last accessed June 9, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/types-of-meditation Opens in new window.
5 “Stress at Work.”
6 “Stress at Work.”