Since many people spend a significant part of the day at their jobs, it's not shocking that work can be a major source of stress. Performance evaluations, customer relationships, job standards, coworkers and more all serve as stressors for many employees. When employees are stressed, it can poorly affect their job performance, causing them to be less productive and potentially make more mistakes. However, there are steps that can be taken by employers to reduce employee stress levels.
Encourage Physical Activity
An abundance of research exists that showcases exercise and its ability to reduce stress. Exercise is essential for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress significantly. Studies have shown exercise reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances individuals' general cognition. Creating an environment that makes it easy for employees to exercise regularly can reduce stress. Consider encouraging employees to get outside and walk during lunch breaks, or try offering discounted gym memberships or other incentives to promote wellness.
Help Employees Move In The Office
Recently, studies have measured the detrimental effects of sitting at a desk for a full eight hours a day. To help your employees move more throughout the day, try installing desks that can be converted to standing desks, or encouraging them to schedule small stretching breaks during the day. Not only does stretching improve physical health, but the small disconnect from a project can also help to re-focus your employees. To help your employees avoid the detrimental effects of sitting, you can promote the Sit 60, Move 3 initiative in your office, encouraging them to take a break every hour so that they don't remain inactive the entire work day.
Get Employees Out Of The Office
While perfect attendance is celebrated at school, employees need to take breaks, or they may risk burnout. Find ways to encourage your employees to actually use their vacation time. Entrepreneur.com published an article titled "5 Ways to Persuade Employees to Take Vacation Before They Burnout" that outlines the benefits of vacations, citing that "Burnout is bad for business. Time off decreases stress, boosts productivity and improves work performance. Employees in countries that encourage workers to use more vacation time are more productive when they're at work." Make sure you've got adequate back-up procedures, so employees don't feel obligated to stay in the office. Additionally, try to get them out of the habit of checking in while they're away.
Money is a large cause of stress for many people, and health problems are a strain on financial resources. While there are many considerations when it comes to choosing a health plan, it's a good idea to solicit employee feedback. Health Alliance Plan offers different options to employers, as well as a number of worksite wellness programs and resources, so there may be more flexibility. Adequate health coverage and other benefits also offer peace of mind to employees, which can help to reduce their stress. When people are covered, they are more likely to treat health issues in the early stages, which saves time, money, and ultimately stress.
Make Your Employees Feel Valued
When employees feel as though they are disposable, it can make for a stressful work environment. For this reason, it is important to communicate to your employees that they are valued at the company. Make sure to do this with all of your communication, however, or it can feel forced. A Forbes.com article titled, "4 Simple Ways to Make Your Employees Feel Valued" states, "The more you recognize your employees' specific contributions to the team, the more irreplaceable they'll feel." Being personal when giving work assignments, and taking an interest in your employees makes them feel like part of the team.
Show, Don't Tell
Communicating to your employees about the values of decompressing means nothing if you're in the office all of the time. In order to show the importance of down time, stretching and exercise, you as a leader must incorporate these practices, too. When you've allowed yourself to reduce your own stress, you will likely be able to communicate with your employees more effectively, so don't forget to schedule your own stretch breaks and use your vacation days.
Employee stress leads to fatigue, poor job performance, burnout and more. As an employer, there are many ways in which you can foster an environment to encourage your employees to relax a little. Reducing work place stress can lead to a more productive and energized work force, and it can also be used as a recruiting tool for attracting top talent. Take some of the steps above to make your employees happier.
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