14 April 2022

5 ways to reduce stress in the workplace

As April is Stress Awareness Month we thought we should address the issue of stress in the workplace.

Back in the day, the common opinion was that being stressed at work was just a part of everyday life. However, in recent years the tide has changed. While we accept that there may be stressful moments during work, it should not be the norm. A stressful environment inhibits employees’ performance, as the CIPD puts it “Stress can place immense demands on employees’ physical and mental health and affect their behaviour, performance and relationships with colleagues.”

In short, stress leads to unhappy, unhealthy and unproductive teams! That’s why today employers are exploring ways to reduce stress in the workplace, and help their employees deal with stress when it does arrive, not only to improve productivity but also to improve the lives and wellbeing of their staff. But, what can be done to reduce and tackle stress in the workplace?

Wellness incentives

If you took a macro view of benefits packages for jobs over the last 10 years you would instantly notice a dramatic increase in the number of companies offering wellness benefits as the years moved on

Today a great many employers offer wellness incentives such as subscriptions to mindfulness apps such as Headspace, on-site yoga sessions, and gym memberships, with a few employers, even going so far to offer remote counselling sessions!

The great thing about offering wellness incentives is they kill two birds with one stone, not only do they help employees stay feeling their best (which in turn keeps their productivity high) it also makes employers more attractive to applicants — aiding employee recruitment and retention.

Mental health first aiders

At Hunter, we welcomed our first mental health first aiders 18 months ago and have had great success with their work this far. Mental health first aiders are regular employees who fulfilling other roles in the company, exactly like a normal workplace first aider, however, they also serve as the first point of contact for employees with mental health issues.

They are not counsellors and cannot serve to diagnose people with mental health conditions instead they help identify symptoms and direct employees to further assistance. This could include helping an employee deal with stress.

Be flexible

We’ve all had a time when our commitments to simply work to a certain timetable and in a certain place have caused us considerable stress. Whether your transport’s been out of action for a few days and you’ve struggled to find an alternative way in, the washing machine repairman can only visit on weekdays, or a parent’s evening clashes with work.

These stresses can be greatly alleviated by offering employees flexitime and the opportunity to work remotely when required. We’re not saying you should tell your employees they don’t have to come into work at all anymore or check-in at certain hours.

But you employed your team because you have faith in their abilities to do their job effectively and timely, therefore you should show a little flexibility as to when and where they work part of the time. You’ll likely see a boost in productivity as well as a reduction in stress.

Team bonding

Team bonding activities and away days can help tackle stress in several ways. Firstly they can help your employees understand where they sit in the larger picture of the organisation, understand how their work helps everyone and creates a general feeling of bonhomie and cohesion.

Awaydays and team building activities also allow staff to blow off some steam and give a refreshing break from their day-to-day roles. One final word on away days, however, be sure to mix up activities

Add some tranquillity

Sometimes it’s not our workload that is stressful it’s our working environment. While we might get a buzz from the constant sound of machinery, ringing of phones or boisterous work-related chatter. Sometimes it can become overwhelming.

For this reason, many workplaces have started to create quiet zones and more tranquil areas where calls and meetings are banned. This allows workers to take a break from the incessant hustle and bustle of a busy work environment, not only does this help employees de-compress it allows them to focus. We’ve all found ourselves in that position where a simple task takes 10 times longer than it should because we can’t focus with all the distractions around us.

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