According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Work-related stress is the leading workplace health problem. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently included “burnout” in its new edition of the International Classification of Diseases, describing it as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
And the coronavirus has only exacerbated the problem.
The good news is that are ways that you can help ramp down the stress. Here are five things to try to help your team manage their stress.
Help Them With Financial Wellness
Money is the No. 1 cause of stress among Americans, and not coincidentally, help with financial planning is one of the top benefits that creates satisfaction among employees. Of course, you’d probably love to give all your employees a raise to help relieve some financial stress. However, the next best thing is helping them better manage the money they do have. Consider launching a series of seminars that tackle big topics—invite a real estate agent to talk about buying a home and available down payment programs; a financial planner who can give tips on budgeting and saving; or an accountant to give advice on tax matters.
Promote Healthy Habits
Corporate wellness programs are on the rise, finds the 2018 Employee Benefits Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). But you don’t have to spend a fortune to help your employees engage in healthier habits. Consider swapping out the pastries at morning meetings for fresh fruit; holding walking meetings; moving the printer to encourage people to add a few steps; or hosting a daily stretching session. All these little changes can add up to make your employees feel better—which will reduce stress.
Minimize the Sunday Scaries
Yep, that’s a thing, and it refers to the stress that employees start feeling as they look ahead to the upcoming week. In fact, an overwhelming 80 percent of workers report feeling this angst, finds LinkedIn.
One major source of stress is a barrage of emails that can make them feel like they are always working, even in their off hours. You might want to take a cue from companies that have started asking managers not to email their employees in the evenings or on the weekend, as a way to alleviate the pressure that workers report feeling to always be available. It’s fine for managers to dive into their inbox at a time that works for them, but encourage them to queue up the email and send it during work hours so the employee doesn’t feel a need to respond. (In France it’s even a law!)
You also might consider making Monday a day that workers look forward to, by starting the morning with energetic music from a playlist curated by an employee or hosting a special Monday luncheon.
Of course not every workplace can allow workers to set their own hours, but many times you could incorporate an element of flexibility that may make a big difference in your team members’ lives. For example, the young dad rushing to get to daycare before it closes at 5 might benefit from shifting his schedule 30 minutes off your stated “work hours.” Or, he could finish work at home after the kids have gone to bed. The goal is to take note of people in your office who might be caregivers or have other responsibilities, and focus on their productivity and output, rather than their desk time.
Fully Explain Your Benefits – Urge Workers to Take Advantage of Them
Worrying about future unknowns can cause a great deal of stress for your team, but your benefit programs can go a long way toward protecting your employees. The key is to help them understand exactly what their benefits offer, such as how contributing to their 401(k) or other retirement plan can help set them up for future stability, or how adequate life insurance and disability insurance can protect them and their loved ones in the event of a tragedy.
By taking steps to alleviate your workers’ stress, you can help protect both their mental and physical health. At the same time, you can ensure that they are bringing their best, most productive selves to work every day.