Workplace stress is a reality that none of us can escape from. Left unmanaged, it can take a massive toll on the health of your employees. Headaches, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression and hypertension are some of the common indications of workplace pressure. But it can also manifest itself in symptoms like lack of concentration, demotivation, high absenteeism etc., taking a toll on productivity and ultimately impacting your bottom line.
Since workplace stress cannot be avoided, the key is to manage it in such a way as to avoid its most detrimental effects. It is in the interest of both employer and employee to ensure the successful management of work pressure. Below we outline some of the key ways in which businesses can regulate the stress levels of their employees and create a positive environment at the workplace.
1. Health and Fitness
Perhaps the most effective way of managing stress is by focusing on fitness. Regular exercise produces chemicals called endorphins which improves mood and brings a sense of wellbeing in individuals. Enhanced fitness levels also help fight the damaging effects of stress by boosting the immune system and improving overall health.
Many offices have mini-gymnasiums in their premises to encourage fitness among employees. Others establish tie-ups with reputed gym chains to offer free or subsidised memberships to their workers. You may consider similar arrangements if you do not have them already. Yoga, aerobics and meditation classes also promote physical and mental wellness and play a vital role in the management of stress.
The introduction of healthy snacks in the cafeteria is yet another way of encouraging good health among your employees. Promoting behavioural changes, such as taking small walking breaks after lunch or the introduction of walking meetings, can also play a vital role in improving the mental and physical health of individuals.
2. Office Décor
Suitable interior design can bring a sense of calmness in the environment. The colour scheme, decorations, ambient light etc. you choose for your office can have a major effect on the disposition of your employees. If you find it too expensive to go for a complete overhaul of the interiors all at once, start small with steps introducing indoor plants and revamping the lighting to bring a sense of serenity to the premises. If you have open space, investing in a landscaped garden could go a long way in elevating the mood of your employees.
3. Flexible Work Hours and Remote Working
Most organisations started allowing remote working and flexible work hours in light of the pandemic. Unless some of your employees are involved in projects that require their presence in the office, you could extend the option of remote working to the post-pandemic period as well. Likewise, you could also allow flexible work hours. Flexi hours and remote working go a long way in empowering your employees. These are small, but significant, ways to make your employees feel cared about.
4. Social Activity
Social activity and cohesion can strengthen the bonding among employees and improve professional relationships. In case it is not a regular part of your calendar yet, you should pencil in the dates for annual get-togethers and offsite team-building programmes. Or, get your department heads to organise monthly gatherings during the less-busy weekends. It will help your employees to relax, bond better and keep tensions low.
5. Quiet Time
If possible, create a space where your employees can rest after a particularly stressful shift. It is important to develop a company culture where managers do not treat such breaks as shirking work, but are encouraging of it, as long as it has a positive effect on productivity. Installing sleep pods is one way in which this can be done using minimum space.
For employees who are unable to manage stress, speaking to a counsellor is a tried-and-tested means of getting a grip on themselves. Ask your HR department to hire counsellors on a part-time basis to help stressed employees cope better. Stress management workshops in small batches is yet another option which could work well. Counselling is effective not only in dissipating stress but also for increasing personal awareness and self-efficiency of individuals.
Make Empathy a Key Part of Your Company Culture
Most companies underestimate the role of empathy in running an organisation. The ability to share and understand others’ emotions is a key part creating a stress-free environment. Organisations which trade aggression for empathy as the predominant ethos of the workplace are also the ones that perform better in the long run. A workplace that values empathy leads to happier employees, reduced collective stress levels and greater employee engagement, creating a win-win situation for all.