Everyone gets nervous about an upcoming presentation or project proposal—that’s normal. But long-term high levels of chronic stress and anxiety are much more serious issues, both for individuals’ health and your company’s bottom line.
If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone. According to the (cheery-sounding) American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers feel stressed on the job.
Of those stressed-out workers, nearly 50% say they need help in learning how to manage stress, while 42% of people say their coworkers need such help. And unfortunately, only 36% of employees said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage stress.
Chronic stress can contribute to issues such as headaches, sleep disturbances, high blood pressure, weak immune systems, and even lead to health conditions such as depression, obesity, and heart disease.
Plus, it can wreak havoc on your company costs. Work-related stress is also the cause of nearly $300 billion in health care costs annually, according to the American Institute of Stress, and can create a toxic corporate environment where no one wants to work.
As a co-founder of Fitspot, I’ve spent years studying how organizations and wellness programs can help employees cope with stress. Here are a few ways we’ve found that effectively reduce stress and make your workplace a more engaging, and less tense, place to work.
1) Provide stress-relief classes and services.
Companies can help their employees relax and recharge by offering massage, meditation, or yoga classes at work. Studies have shown that massage may help a wide range of health-related issues, such as anxiety, digestive disorders, insomnia and headaches related to stress, and joint pain. Plus, it just feels really good.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard about the benefits of meditation—from reduced blood pressure to improved sleep. At Fitspot, we offer our clients classes with certified meditation experts to teach our their employees how to meditate in a way that’s understandable, effective, and fun.
2) Invite in experts to speak about reducing stress.
Workshops, panels, and classes are a great way to spread the word about reducing stress. Fitspot, for example, offers educational workshops as one of our pillars of Active Wellness. In these informal, interactive experiences, health professionals cover topics such as mental wellness, resilience, mindfulness, and other effective strategies for managing stress. These programs are proven to give teams the tools to make healthy, lifestyle changes that last.
3) Offer training for managers and supervisors.
You can also look into offering training for leaders and supervisors to learn effective ways to reduce stress, and signs to look out for that may signal an employee is dealing with burnout. They can also learn how to work with employees to create practical goals for optimal performance, and how to communicate expectations clearly.
4) Make it easy for employees to fit in exercise.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is, thankfully, one of the easiest. According to research, mind-body workouts such as yoga or Pilates are best for helping people relax and feel less anxious. However, any form of physical activity is an antidote to rising stress levels. Help your employees fit in fitness by bringing workouts onsite, subsidizing gym memberships, or even offering Classpass credits for local fitness studios (all of which Fitspot can provide).
Just remember: The more your employees move, the less they’ll stress. So provide plenty of opportunities to get moving at work. Consider hosting a wellness challenge to take 10,000 steps per day, with an incentive for all participants, or starting a trend of walk-and-talk meetings to help people move more during the day.
5) Offer health coaching services.
A relatively new field, health coaching can empower employees to make changes in their lives and move toward better health and well-being. This is a service of many employee wellness programs that can help people make major improvements in their stress levels. Don’t worry; this type of coach won’t yell or tell you what to do. Instead, they’ll ask questions, engage with, and challenge you to find your own answers and reach your personal goals that align with your desires.
6) Set specific times for communication.
Managers can create clear boundaries between work and personal time, and not expect employees to available to answer emails outside of office hours, which can help employees reduce stress and anxiety about always being on-call.
7) Consider flexible schedules.
This may not work for all offices, but allowing some employees to come in later and work later, or vice versa, can allow people to take care of personal matters and feel less stressed about fitting it all in.
Also, let employees pick and choose their extracurricular activities that aren’t required. We’re all for promoting a positive company culture, but fitness classes, happy hours, volunteer projects, and other activities may add additional stress to their lives. If anyone expresses dissatisfaction with the amount of activities offered, it may be time to cut back.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Fitspot is diving deep into mental wellness at work in our “Be Well with Fitspot” content series. Get the free e-book here!