April marks stress awareness month, and with 79% of Brits stating they have experienced work stress, it’s something that a lot of companies need to be looking at. Work stress is more than simply having a packed to-do list, and if not treated correctly it can be incredibly damaging for your employees. The HSE describes work stress as "the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them". This type of stress can lead to anxiety, depression and even impact your overall immune system too. There are a number of ways you can support employee wellbeing, in stress awareness month and beyond at your company. Here are seven ideas to get you started.
Launch a wellness scheme
A wellness scheme is a brilliant way to provide support for employees who may be suffering from stress, or even provide services that help to prevent stress altogether too. You may provide free or discounted gym membership to help keep your people active, arrange on-site massages or holistic therapies, stock the kitchen with fresh fruit or even give your people access to private healthcare. You may choose to create your own wellness scheme from scratch or choose an off the shelf solution such as LifeWorks or MediCash. A wellness scheme will often come at a cost, but when you consider the impact a stressed employee can have on your business - Vitality reveals that the UK economy lost almost £92 billion in 2019 (£91.9 billion) as a result of ill-health related absence and presenteeism in the workplace – it’s well worth investing in a wellness scheme to help keep your people happy, healthy and productive in work.
Providing flexibility in work is a great way to improve work-life balance and reduce stress for your employees. You may choose to allow employees to choose what times they start / finish their working day, provide the facility for employees to work remotely or even allow for a condensed working week too. The freedom to balance work and home-life can be a huge stress reliever, and it’s also one of the most desired EVP’s for the majority of candidates too. If you’re not getting flexible already then now could be the time to start.
Humans are inherently social beings, and for many having the company of others and staying connected can be a big stress reliever. The small chats in the kitchen, lunchtime walks with our colleagues and conversations on Microsoft Teams can help keep us sane and cheer us up on those down days, so a social culture can help massively with this. You may choose to create designated break times where your people can relax with colleagues and catch up, or organise social events in your office (socially distanced of course) to get your people talking. The move to remote work had a big impact on social culture for many, check out our blog for ways to bring the fun back into your remote company culture for ideas if you are still operating remotely.
Breakout areas to relax
We need to take breaks in the working day, but for many it is tempting to eat our lunch at our desks and refrain from taking a break away from our screens. If you can provide comfortable and inviting areas where your employees can step away from their screens and decompress from work then this can really help with the relief of work stress. You may choose to create quiet areas where employees can read or listen to a podcast on their headphones, or more activity focused areas filled with ping pong and pool tables for employees to let loose with colleagues. Having a mixture of environments enables you to cater to different preferences and personality traits, so if you have the space then why not get creative with your office design!
Providing access to professional counselling can be an enormous help to employees experiencing stress within the workplace. Counselling will help employees identify the root cause of the stresses they are experiencing, and provide an outlet to vent their honest feelings without fear of judgement. Being able to understand what is causing stress through counselling will help an employee to manage this and eventually reduce it for the future too. Counselling should be provided by an experienced professional, but there are plenty of organisations that offer solutions for companies to provide to employees that are effective and affordable.
Show your appreciation
When you are under pressure in work and putting all of your efforts in to deliver on a project / overwhelming task it is likely to cause stress. If you push yourself hard without any thanks or appreciation for your hard work then it can be very disheartening for the employee. Recognition won’t eliminate stress altogether, but it will help to motivate and engage your employees at those times when they are a little more under pressure.
Sometimes speaking up about feeling stressed is the hardest part, so many organisations will be completely unaware of how their employees are really feeling in work until it is too late. Consider providing an anonymous feedback outlet where employees can flag concerns without feeling worried about how their manager may react.
Need advice on integrating an employee wellness / stress management programme into your employer brand strategy? Get in touch with the team today for recommended solutions!