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Employee engagement relies on various strategic initiatives: building a culture of open communication, developing leadership’s commitment to recognition, and providing opportunities for career development to name a few. But what about anxiety in the workplace? It’s critical for HR professionals to add stress management to their list of strategic initiatives.
“Nearly half of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover.” – Future Workplaces survey
Yes, work is stressful. So much that burnout is a reality for the millennial workforce. It’s the responsibility of companies and their leaders to have the right initiatives in place to address anxiety in the workplace. If you want your employees to perform well in high-stress situations, you’ve got to put them first. And you need actionable quick wins to help them with stress management. Below are simple tips and tricks to address stress management in the workplace.
How to address stress management and reduce anxiety at work
If you want to build a work culture that takes mental health seriously, you need to make sure all employees feel confident and comfortable enough to ask for help; and engage their middle-management to relay the message. Stress management goes beyond promoting a healthy work-life balance. To be successful, you need to incorporate practices into the way leaders organize work and engage with their teams on a regular basis.
1. Enforce working hours
A simple way to set boundaries is to reduce email access outside of office hours and lead by example, such as avoiding sending emails late at night or early in the morning.
2. Encourage breaks
A short pause reduces cognitive overload and improves an employee’s emotional state, providing better stress management. Encourage everyone to take lunch breaks. For instance, there are countries (like mine, France) where having lunch at your desk is technically forbidden.
3. Insist on work-life balance
In a recent report from Flexjobs targeting working parents, 81 percent said that work-life balance mattered more to them than earnings. You might not be like companies, such as Netflix, that are fully ready to give unlimited holidays to employees, but encouraging people to take time off is both a stress management initiative and an engagement booster.
4. Mitigate the solitude of remote workers
A recent study conducted by the United Nations reported that social isolation was a factor related to increased stress of home-based workers. Humans are social and their drive to bond is a primary motivation factor. If some team members operate remotely, ensure they have regular contact with their colleagues and take the time to conduct regular check-ins.
5. Give a clear direction and sense of purpose
People see lack of control over daily tasks as a source of workplace stress. But, according to Personnel Psychology, employees who felt overworked “found the effects less severe when they had a feeling the organization valued their work and gave them a sense of control over their circumstances.”
6. Discourage perfectionism
Perfectionism is known to trigger anxiety at work. Instead, promote a culture of psychological safety, where employees can learn to take risks safely and feel it’s ok to make mistakes. This doesn’t mean you can’t prone excellence! Encourage your teams to become high achievers: people who excel at work by valuing the learning process more than the final outcome.
7. Keep an open-door policy
For many people, stress isn’t due to work itself, it’s due to the uncertainty around it. Develop a strong communication and feedback strategy to make conversations more open, fluid, and transparent. How we communicate is a simple yet powerful action that supports stress management. And it works: 78 percent of companies with a communication strategy were able to improve their employee experience.
8. Practice frequent recognition
Did you know 70 percent of employees say getting a private thank you gives them satisfaction at work? That’s how much power there is in employee recognition. And according to the Business Case for Social Recognition Report, recognition was determined as having the greatest impact on employee engagement.
9. Start a walking group
A group of researchers in Italy discovered there is a direct link between a walk in the forest and reduction of cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Why not launch a weekly walk in the park? Or host walking meetings? This comes at no additional cost and has an immediate stress management benefit.
10. Ask for flexible work arrangements
A good way to get started with stress management could be as simple as working from home at least once a week. Commuting for 30 minutes or more results in higher levels of stress and anxiety than normal, according to the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics.
11. Join a new era of mindfulness
Meditation and yoga are now common in the workplace. But have you ever had a gong bath? Sound bathing activates the parasympathetic and vagal systems, driving the response to overcome anxiety and panic attacks. Good news, you can get sound bathing anytime with the ThirdEar app.
12. Use your company’s wellness program
Sitting constantly not only impacts your physical health, but it’s known to increase stress. Just 5 minutes of moderate exercise can be enough to enhance in your mood. Engage in your company’s wellness challenges and if there’s not one in place, consider starting your own wellness and stress management initiative.
13. Put your phone away
David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, explains in a recent New York Times interview:
“Your cortisol levels are elevated when your phone is in sight or nearby, or when you hear it or even think you hear it. It’s a stress response, and it feels unpleasant, and the body’s natural response is to want to check the phone to make the stress go away.”
14. Practice healthy eating
Bananas, berries, dark chocolate, apples, walnuts … these aren’t just healthy alternatives to a box of donuts. They also act as mood boosters and improve the production of happiness neurotransmitters.
Everyone is, one day or the other, confronted with unhealthy levels of stress. But one decisive action to address stress management can make all the difference. Start creating a workplace that has open communication and continuous support. Never neglect to ask your colleagues how they’re doing and always find new ways to address stress management in the workplace.
Do you want to learn more about how to engage your employees? Download Achievers’ e-book, “The Power of Employee Appreciation.”