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Companies Can and Should Take on Employee Stress

In Human Resources — by Dave Anderson

Stressed employee

We’ve all heard the scary facts about stress. It can take a toll on our day-to-day lives and trigger long-term health problems with serious consequences.

The vast majority of us experience some stress on a regular basis. We can make an effort to minimize it but most career-focused individuals see stress as an unavoidable part of the job and don’t expect their employer to do much about it.

However, modern companies have the ability to identify workplace stress and can make an effort to reduce it’s impact through a wellness program. A quality program can lead to lower healthcare costs, reduced sick time, fewer employee compensation claims, and of course provide employees with an outlet for stress.

What’s causing stress in your workplace?

Before you implement a wellness program in your workplace, you should first understand who in your office faces stress and what causes it. You can monitor “stress metrics,” like each team’s sick days, turnover rate, and overall productivity. You’ll also get insight into work conditions through the anecdotal information collected in employee satisfaction surveys and exit interviews.

Even with this data, it should be fairly easy to tell who in your workplace is burning the candle on both ends. Look for typical signs like someone staying in the office longer than usual, behaving irritable or antisocial, or just looking tense and fatigued. A combination of these signs usually means exactly what it looks like – that person is stressed out.

Don’t overlook the stresses of life

Work might be the most common source of stress but life outside the office presents plenty to worry about too. Unfortunately, HR Departments don’t have data for identifying employees with life issues weighing on them. You probably know who in your workplace has young kids keeping them up at night but might not be aware of the more personal problems some of your employees face.

The takeaway here is you can’t “cure” stress in the workplace. You can instead provide your employees with a wellness program that aids in stress reduction.

Help your employees blow off some steam

When creating a wellness program, offering office exercise classes and reimbursements for gym memberships are often the first ideas that come to mind. But what other stress-reduction activities should you consider? Here are a few creative ideas you can include in your wellness program:

  • Fun activities for overworked teams. Use your “stress metrics” to determine which teams can use some time away from the office and coordinate an activity with the manager.
  • Yoga and meditation classes. Mindfulness exercises are a great way for a stressed-out employee to clear their head.
  • Monthly fitness contests. Offer a prize to the employee who runs the most miles or does the most burpees in a month. Everyone can track and share their progress using a Fitbit or mobile app.
  • Nearby excursions. Is there a short hike close to the office or nice park down the street? Encourage your employees to get some fresh air from time to time.
  • Masseuse visits. Muscle tension is a symptom of stress. Give your employees a moment of bliss with a nice massage.
  • Flu shots. Stress and sickness go hand in hand. Providing vaccines can make for a mild flu season.
  • Sports teams. Sign your company up for a local sports leagues where they compete with other companies.
  • Volunteer programs. Giving employees the chance to do a good deed can be fulfilling and help them put things in perspective .
  • Office social groups. Book clubs, cooking groups, office fantasy sports leagues and other social groups give like-minded employees the opportunity to bond over something besides work.
  • Mental health services. It should be covered by your insurance policy so make sure employees know it’s an option if it’s something they can benefit from.

Strive to build a wellness program that offers something for everyone. Some people release stress by hitting a punching bag and others prefer to relax on the couch and knit. Keep track of who doesn’t take advantage of your program and try to come up with an activity they’ll enjoy. Don’t leave any employee behind to wallow in stress.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our business guide “How to Create an Employee Wellness Program to Promote Workplace Health

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