A whopping 83 percent of US workers report suffering from job-related stress, causing approximately one million employees to miss work each and every day in the United States. And this stress isn’t just causing problems for employees, it’s creating problems for employers as well. Stressed employees call in sick more frequently, utilize their short term disability benefits more, and have lower productivity rates overall than their less-stressed counterparts.
To combat these losses and to establish healthier working environments where teams can truly thrive, more and more employers are seeking out and investing in strategies for managing employee stress.
These employers recognize that workplace mental health is reaching its defining moment and that the future viability of not only their business, but of Corporate America as a whole, could hang in the balance.
So, how can employers reduce stress in the workplace? This question has never been more significant. Before we highlight the steps required to improve stress management in an organization, it’s important for employers to understand the situations and circumstances that contribute to high stress levels, burnout, and low employee morale.
What Causes Employee Stress?
There are a number of contributing factors when it comes to stress levels in the workplace. However, most of these factors can be broken down into five key categories:
Conducting a workload assessment should be the first step for anyone struggling with managing stressed employees. In the vast majority of situations, reconfiguring the duties a team member is responsible for will alleviate stress and improve job satisfaction.
To achieve this, however, employers must be able to recognize the warning signs that an employee is being overworked. If a staff member seems to be less motivated, more irritable, or is failing to perform well despite a top-notch previous track record, it’s likely time to schedule a sit down and evaluate what changes can be made.
When roles aren’t clearly defined and responsibilities aren’t formally delegated and documented, team members begin to step on one another’s toes or end up taking on additional duties outside of their original job description.
This lack of clarity typically leads to communication breakdowns, higher stress levels, less cooperation, and built-up resentment, which is why it’s so important to set clear expectations and to continuously evaluate employee responsibilities. If a team member is taking on more duties, it may be necessary to update their position description, increase their salary, or formally re-introduce their role so other employees are aware of any changes.
If two or more employees present grievances regarding who is responsible for a specific task or duty, a team meeting may be required to hash out the functions of each role and to set firm boundaries.
Lack of Advancement Opportunities
No one likes to feel like their career has become stagnant. When employees know there’s no chance of receiving a promotion or being given professional development opportunities, they start to feel undervalued and unmotivated. They also question whether or not they made the right decision when they accepted their current role.
Soon, these employees will become unhappy and either seek out other employment opportunities or stay put for the paycheck alone, only to become more and more dissatisfied.
Both the lack of momentum and the potential financial stress that comes with a stagnant career can lead to stress for the individual and the company as a whole.
It’s impossible to discuss stress management in company environments without touching on the topic of weak leadership. Whether it’s a lack of effective communication, frequent micromanaging, or a reputation for repeatedly criticizing employees in public — if a leader is failing to empower and strengthen their team, they are hindering business performance.
Poorly managed employees often struggle to understand the greater meaning of the work they are doing and find it difficult to prioritize tasks or projects. They also don’t trust upper management to help in times of distress or confusion, resulting in feelings of being disregarded, undervalued, or “set up to fail.” To be more specific, 84 percent of workers in the US blame bad management for creating unnecessary stress in the workplace — proving just how prevalent bad leadership is and how much it contributes to employee stress levels.
Insufficient Tools, Technology, or Resources
Not having access to the necessary tools and support for a job is one of the top employee stressors. It could be an online project management tool, a secure computer network, a standard operating procedure, or a new employee handbook — if your employee is going to struggle to perform without it, it’s mandatory and worth investing in.
How Can Employers Reduce Stress in the Workplace?
So, what can you do to manage stress within your organization? Here are a few ways you can get started.
Improve Internal Communication
If you asked any successful leader “How do you manage stress among your team members?”, they’d likely credit communication as a major factor. Open lines of communication are essential for making employees feel connected, heard, and valued.
So how can managers reduce stress in the workplace? Investing in a company chat tool like Slack can be extremely beneficial in this regard. These tools can be used to improve communication across teams, departments, and entire organizations. Plus, Slack channels can be created for a broad spectrum of different reasons — it’s totally up to your discretion!
You can create a book club channel, for example, and encourage employees to socialize while sharing their latest reads, or start a recipe sharing channel for your office foodies.
You can also utilize your company chat tool for more formal, pressing matters. An employee onboarding channel can be used as a place where new hires can ask urgent questions or employees can send vacation time requests or OOO reminders to a scheduling channel.
Remember, infrastructure and process models are at the heart of any great communication strategy. The key is to find communication tools, workflows, and systems that work for you and your team.
Host Company Vision Workshops
When your employees are united and working together towards a common goal, they are more likely to be resilient and optimistic during times of uncertainty. One of the best ways to establish unity amongst your team is to host a company vision workshop.
These workshops are specifically designed to clarify the common vision your entire company shares, as well as the various ways different departments and teams support that greater vision. They can also be used to identify any challenges that are preventing team members from supporting the vision to the best of their ability.At the end of your company vision workshop, you’ll have reduced managers stress and gathered a list of action items that, when completed, will create even more unity within your organization. You’ll also have peace of mind, knowing your team now has clarity about why their work matters and how it is contributing to overarching company goals.
Embrace Flexible Work Schedules
Many employers are still reluctant to take this advice, but if you’re serious about understanding how managers can reduce stress in the workplace, this is a worthwhile strategy to consider.
In a recent study, 81 percent of employees said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options — and that loyalty really pays off. In fact, loyal employees can increase revenue and profits more than 200 percent. Now take a moment to think about what that could mean for your business.
There are plenty of ways to make work environments more flexible for employees, including:
- Implementing a condensed workweek
- Allowing employees to choose between multiple start time options (i.e. 7AM-3PM, 9AM-5PM, or 10AM-6PM)
- Allowing employees to work from home for a specific number of days per week
- Allowing employees to bank hours, within predetermined boundaries, and then take time off in lieu either on a weekly or monthly basis
- Providing the option to take half-hour lunch breaks and leave early on Friday, or take one-hour lunch breaks throughout the week and stay later on Friday
When it comes to stress management, organizations will always vary on what’s best. It will take time and deliberation to find the best option for your company’s needs but ultimately, flexible work arrangements improve employee satisfaction and alleviate stress levels significantly.
Implement a Peer-To-Peer Recognition Program
A peer-to-peer recognition program is simply a formal process by which team members can give each other positive feedback and celebrate the contributions of their colleagues.
These types of programs have been proven to increase productivity and improve employee well-being, making them a worthwhile endeavor. Plus, when employees are recognized for their work or the positive impact they have on company culture, they are less likely to feel unappreciated or taken for granted — both of which are contributing factors of stress.
Ideas for a successful peer-to-peer recognition program include:
- Allowing employees to nominate their peers for Employee of the Month, which can be acknowledged with a formal certificate, a hallway picture display, and a free lunch.
- Asking employees to write down each time a fellow team member does something nice for someone else and place it in a jar. The employee with the most entries gets a special dedicated parking spot closest to the office entrance.
- Inviting employees to nominate peers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills or growth within their role, and then having each employee enter a selection process to receive a promotion or opportunity for professional development.
There are countless ways to implement peer-to-peer recognition programs, but the most successful programs always consider which forms of recognition would be most appreciated by the employees participating in them. Be sure to consult with your team prior to launching a program and use their feedback when developing your strategy.
Offer Outstanding Health Benefits
There is nothing more integral to mental health than having access to proper medical care. So when asking “how can employers reduce stress in the workplace?”, employee health should be top of mind.
A robust and all-encompassing benefits package is truly invaluable. Employers should seek out providers and benefits plans that cover:
- Preventative care
- Acute and urgent care
- Chronic condition management
- Mental health
- Specialized services (dental, vision, physical therapy, etc)
The inability to access healthcare services due to financial limitations is one of the most stressful circumstances an employee can face. Above all else, companies should ensure their employees have access to the medical care required to live a healthy life.
Partner with Eden Health
Stress management in company environments isn’t always easy or straightforward. Your employees have a responsibility to you, but you also have a responsibility to provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Eden Health’s Integrated 360 care model provides employees with everything they need in one place. Make your job easier and keep your employees healthier and happier with 24/7 access to integrated care. Contact us today to learn more about our healthcare solutions for employers.
This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your Care Team or other healthcare provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.