20 Oct Five Steps Leaders Can Take To Reduce Employee Stress In Today’s Workplace
There is a lot to consider when it comes to safely returning to work. Of course, safely returning to work may look different, depending on your business. Now, perhaps more than ever, it’s important to help teach employees how to handle stress to improve and maintain both positivity and productivity during a pandemic.
It can be easy for employees to dismiss human resources and its suggestions as little more than a formality. The truth is that HR professionals have a real and verifiable impact on the health of a company and its employees. As the CEO and chief people officer of a national retail healthcare and lab testing franchise, I’ve had the opportunity to work directly in handling staff concerns and ensuring a safe and productive workplace.
We use the title “chief people officer” because it’s important to remember that employees are so much more than resources — that they’re people first. In unprecedented times, it’s important for companies to do everything they can to prepare employees to handle stress in positive ways while also improving company productivity. Here are five steps you can take to cut down on employee stress at your company.
1. Check in with employees to see how they’re doing.
The first step in helping your employees better handle stress is to know how your employees are feeling right now. Without an understanding of company morale, it can be difficult to pinpoint how your staff is doing and what solutions you can take to address any potential issues.
There are many different ways you can get a better feel for how your company is feeling. Perhaps the easiest option is to have a companywide meeting where people have the opportunity to air grievances and get things out in the open. Of course, such large groups aren’t always conducive to openness.
For this reason, you may want to consider an anonymous survey of employees. Another option is making a check-in a part of your existing employee meetings to see how people are doing, how things are at home and if there is anything you can do as an employer to help.
2. Encourage mindfulness.
With so much negativity coming from social media, the news and more, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Encouraging mindfulness and meditation can be a valuable tool in helping employees disconnect for a few minutes each day. It can be done through a guided meditation app, free online tools or completely on your own.
Some say mindfulness can be your best productivity tool, and that idea is not far off. When workers become overwhelmed with a lot on their plates, it can be hard to know where to even begin. This means lost time and a lack of focus that can inhibit overall productivity. By practicing mindfulness, employees can learn to clear their minds and center themselves to better focus on the task at hand.
3. Build outdoor time into the workday.
Studies have shown that spending time outside can do wonders for mental health. While the positive benefits of time outdoors are always there, it’s probably more important now than ever. Encouraging nature walks can be a wonderful way to get people away from their desks and thinking about something else, even if just for a little while.
Consider recommending a time for a 10- to 15-minute company walk on a nearby trail so people have an opportunity to stretch and get some fresh air. If your team is too dedicated to leave their desks, then you might have to set the example. Try taking your own nature walk during lunch and bring your team with you.
4. Consider a company fitness plan.
Providing incentives to join gyms, yoga studios or other wellness centers has been gaining in popularity with HR departments for some time. As gyms begin to reopen and there are more options for convenient in-home fitness solutions, it’s something we’ll likely see return to benefits packages once again.
Exercise is incredibly beneficial to both the mind and body. Providing a little bit of a push to get employees active can go a long way to improving physical and mental health in both the short- and long-term.
5. Promote responsibility.
As we all do our best to deal with uncertain times, it’s important that we encourage each other to cope with our difficulties in responsible ways, rather than destructive ones. Obviously, your employees are adults who are free to do what they want on their own time. However, between the virtual happy hours and lack of things to do, it’s important for people not to get carried away.
Let your staff know that there are options available if they wish to talk about a potential substance use disorder or concerns. Sometimes, understanding that there are resources available to help those in need is all the encouragement someone requires to ask for the help they need.
Encourage a conversation between companies and employees.
Caring for the mental health of workers isn’t the responsibility of an employer. Even so, it’s still incumbent on companies to remain mindful if they want to get the best work out of their people and create an environment conducive to attracting and retaining the best talent. Hopefully, these tips will help you and your employees lead less stress-filled lives where you can get more done.