April is Stress Awareness Month. How are you helping your employees avoid burnout and start feeling better?
If you type “stressed” into a stock photo website, you’re likely to find thousands of faces with furrowed brows and frazzled hair. More often than not, though, those folks are at a desk or hunched over a laptop.
That’s no surprise! Work stress affects millions of people every day.
In fact, the American Psychological Association found that work and money are among the nation’s top stressors every year. More than half of today’s workforce reports feeling stressed out on a regular basis, and that number is growing.
We hear this echoed by our clients, who frequently ask us how they can improve employees’ emotional and physical wellbeing in more wholistic ways. Here are our four suggestions for how your HR department can build a more supportive environment and reduce stress at work.
Make work-life balance part of your culture.
Are your employees working too many overtime hours? Do you regularly see (or send) emails at odd hours? Employees who work too much are at a high risk for burnout, which can cause fatigue, anxiety, forgetfulness, decreased work performance, or even physical symptoms.
And it’s even more bad news on an organizational level: the psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees cost an estimated $125-190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the United States.
Instead, build a sense of work-life balance into your company culture and share those values consistently. What that looks like for you may vary, but overall it means enforcing healthy boundaries between work and home, whether that’s allowing flexible schedules or encouraging employees to unplug—really unplug—when it’s time.
Physical activity is the best way to fight stress. While we recommend having a regular routine of 30 minutes per day, change can happen with low-impact activities like walking or stretching, or small habits like taking the stairs.
“Managers can add walking breaks or other exercise to meeting agendas. Scheduling 15-minute walking breaks during long meetings helps reduce stress that might have built up,” writes Dr. Albert Ray for SHRM. “Employees typically come back refreshed and ready to work.”
Emphasize mental wellness.
Mental wellness is a broad concept, but it requires effort just like physical fitness does. People who maintain positive mental health more frequently realize their potential, are able to work productively, and can cope with day-to-day stresses.
Managers can help encourage this by offering “mental health days” as needed. In the office, try conducting mindfulness workshops at lunch or create a quiet space for reflection throughout the day.
Offer a corporate wellness benefit.
To really commit to a healthier and happier team, consider adding a wellness program to your benefits.
At IncentFit, we can build a custom rewards program to suit your employees’ unique needs and challenges—from reducing stress, to finding time for the gym, to encouraging more and better sleep. (And yes, you’ll see benefits beyond just a happier office.)
Want to get learn more? Schedule a call with our team to see how a wellness program could help your business.