Workplace Stress: 10 Ways to Ease the Strain

February 23, 2024
Workplace Stress

Chances are, your employees feel stress at work. In a recent Gallup poll, a whopping 44% of workers reported they were stressed out. The study indicates that stress levels among workers are rising, too.

Left unaddressed, workplace stress can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and mental health issues. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, which may increase susceptibility to colds, flu, and coronavirus infections. This, in turn, can increase the number of time off days your employee may take and lower employee output. Stress also disrupts productivity by decreasing employee engagement.

Combating these issues and helping your employees thrive means creating a company culture focusing on stress prevention and stress management.

Powerful ways to help reduce workplace stress

Some careers create more anxiety than others. Employers can not only help workers in high-stress positions, but also take steps to help decrease stressors across the board by being proactive about the employee experience. Let's take a look at 10 ways you can help reduce workplace stressors and to help employees.

1. Create a strong work-life balance

Over the years, one of the leading causes of workplace stress has consistently been the inability to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Career-related job demands tend to follow employees back home, which may disrupt their time to unwind, recharge, and fuel their passions. This creates a negative cycle of stress that continues to grow as time passes.

A positive work-life balance includes minimizing work-related stress to create a sustainable professional life while optimizing well-being and health. Some ways to achieve a healthy work-life balance include employees maintaining reasonable working hours and providing more adequate time to complete tasks. These boundaries help to reduce the pressure on employees to work an extended workday and can help diminish work stress.

Work-life balance is essential. Making this a focus is an important for workplace stress.

2. Provide employees with premium benefits

One of the most impactful ways to help reduce stress in the workplace is to take care of employee health. Employers can do that by providing access to premium health benefits alongside other options. Premium benefits with access to health professionals and preventive health and benefits education and resources can help employees combat stress and healthcare costs, which also can be stressful.

The safety net of premium benefits can help decrease job stress while improving the overall employee experience and satisfaction. SMBs may struggle to find access to comprehensive employee benefits packages, but working with a professional employer organization (PEO) can help. PEOs leverage the collective strength of thousands of SMBs to deliver access to premium-level benefits, HR consultants, and more. PEOs offer businesses access to health insurance and benefits from leading carriers. Benefits also includes access to dental, vision, life, disability, retirement, transit, employee benefits education about PEO sponsored plan and employee assistance programs (EAPs).

3. Encourage open communication

Unfortunately, a lot of stressful situations at work come from the top down. When employees don’t feel comfortable communicating with upper-level management, they may feel more stressed and tend to feel more pressure while in the office.

As an employer, you can shape the employee experience and help reduce stress caused by leadership. Classes and workshops on topics like active listening and constructive feedback, as well as stress management training for managers can provide tools and training resources for managers so they can handle and communicate effectively with employees. Establishing an open line of communication between bosses and employees can help with work stressors and challenges.

4. Offer vacation time off

Many Americans receive fewer vacation time off than other Western countries. However, most of the workforce only uses half of their vacation time, and some don’t use any of it. Job insecurity and worries about career development may deter some employees from using their time off. Many employees also think they have too much to do at work and aren't comfortable leaving the office and unplugging for more than a few days. Or they actually do have too much work to unplug.

While productivity is essential, taking time off can help employees with workplace stress and may actually improve output throughout the year. As an employer, encourage your workforce to use their time off.

5. Schedule team outings

Team outings can help improve office morale and facilitate stronger cooperation. Plan off-site outings during normal business hours to avoid cutting into your employees’ personal time.

Some options could be an outing at a nearby restaurant, a group volunteer project, or even a traditional company picnic. These outings can help improve interpersonal relationships at work. When planning such events, remember to include all your employees and to find ways to get remote workers involved.

6. Use flexible work schedules

Flexible work schedules allow employees to vary their start and stop times for their workday, and possibly which days they work. This can be an effective way to help lower workplace stress and increase productivity.

While flexible schedules may not work for all employees in all roles, it’s something to consider. If work isn’t time-sensitive or dependent on typical business hours, give your employees options throughout the week to accommodate their needs and help reduce overall stress.

7. Provide employee recognition

When you take the time to recognize stellar work performance and achievements, you show your employees that what they’re doing matters. Recognition for achieving goals reinforces valued conduct and motivates the employees in the spotlight as well as others who want recognition. Praise is a wonderfully effective stress reliever. The recognition doesn’t have to be expensive. Even a verbal thank you or a thoughtful email from a manager to an employee can achieve positive results.

8. Encourage breaks throughout the day

Many employees may work throughout the day. Even when tight deadlines aren't looming, they may eat lunch at their desk. Taking breaks can help employees avoid burnout while reducing overall stress levels. It’s important to unplug, stand up and move around.

Consider offering on-site facilities, exercise classes, meditation spaces, or even nap pods. These breaks can benefit both their physical and mental health. Encourage your employees to take and adhere to required breaks and to comply with applicable state and local requirements for providing meal and rest breaks throughout the day.

9. Make the office welcoming and fun

A great way to encourage breaks throughout the day is to make your office fun. Little diversions set up throughout the building can give employees reasons to get up and move without having to leave the building. Some options include adding a ping pong table, allowing employees to bring their pets to the office or even installing a few video games. While these diversions can seem counterintuitive, when used appropriately, they can transform the employee experience and help breed innovative ideas.

10. Understand mandated leave requirements

There are various mandated leave requirements at the federal, state, and local levels. Understanding these requirements, drafting applicable policies, and communicating them to your employees can reduce stress in times of emergencies.

A lot of workplace stress is associated with life events that require time off, such as illness, pregnancy, childcare, and death. Make sure that you stay up to date on mandatory time off requirements. As you create and implement new policies, communicate them thoroughly and promptly to your team.

Working with a PEO is a great way to get offerings and resources so you can help reduce employee work-related stress. Find a PEO that offers a team of HR experts who understand the intricacies of risk mitigation, benefits, payroll services, and more. To learn more about how TriNet’s comprehensive HR solutions can help your business, contact us today.

This communication is for informational purposes only, is not legal, tax or accounting advice, and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

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