#HR Trends and Insights

10 Proven Ways to Help Your Workforce Reduce Stress

January 05, 2024

According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), 83% of U.S workers suffer from work-related stress.

Almost 1 million Americans daily miss work due to stress, and workplace stress affects 76% of U.S workers’ personal relationships.

The Center for Disease Control says the workplace is the number one cause of life stress, while the AIS reported 120,000 people die yearly as a result of work-related stress.

So, how can you help your workforce maintain cool heads and clear minds when there’s a whirlwind of stress in the day-to-day?

The Impact of Stress

People have different ideas about what stress is and where it comes from, but most commonly it can be described as, “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.”

According to Richard S. Lazarus, an American psychologist, stress is “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”

Stress follows us everywhere. That’s why the best thing anyone can do islearn how to identify the sources and determine a better way to manage them.

The first step in stress management is identifying the triggers.

How Do I Stop Stressing at Work?

Track exactly what is stressing you in a journal. Learn to develop healthier responses to workplace stress and take a bit of time to recharge when you need it.

Define boundaries to protect yourself from stressful situations. Discuss with your manager if the problem persists and ask for support when needed.

Learning to navigate stress will vary from individual to individual.

Still, there are several ways to help promote lower stress levels in the workplace.Thereby removing the negative consequences stress places on physical and mental wellness.

What Are the Best Ways to Reduce Stress at Work?

1. Take Time to Breathe

Banishing workplace stress can be as easy as breathing.

Sharing simple breathing techniques with your workforce can help them manage stress and promote positive company culture.

One of the most popular and simplest exercises to incorporate into a daily routine is the 4-7-8:

  1. Find somewhere comfortable to sit.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Breathe in through the nose to the count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale through the mouth for an eight count.

Why Does Deep Breathing Manage Stress?

When you take deep breaths, a signal is sent to the brain telling it to relax and calm down. The brain then relays this same message to the body.

When a person is stressed, their heart rate increases, they breathe faster, and their blood pressure goes up, causing various health complications. Deep breaths counteract all the above, telling the body to relax.

Employer Tip: Show your employees you care about their mental health. Run a campaign to battle workplace stress and include this link to the AIS Employee Resilience & WellBeing free online course.

2. Promote Physical Activity in the Workplace

Physical and mental health go hand in hand, and there are many ways to help bolster the level of physical activity your workforce participates in throughout the day.

Exercise pumps up endorphins and can help refocus the mind on the body’s movements, pulling it off inevitable daily irritations.

Encourage employees to improve their physical health by promoting things like group sports or office yoga. Put in a ping pong or air hockey table where coworkers can stand, move, and discuss work-related ideas.

Businesses can also consider installing an onsite gym, standing desks, easily accessible walking paths, or push for mobile meetings.

Make stairs more appealing to employees by making the stairwell attractive, keeping them clean, or posting how many calories are burned in each flight.

Give your employees the option of riding bicycles to and from work during their commute to infuse more activity into their routines and improve their physical health.

Employer Tip: Edenred’s bike-sharing and micromobility options can easily be included in employee benefit packages.

3. Take a Break

Work-related stress can build up throughout the day, leading to some not-so-healthy responses.

Allowing employees to take an afternoon break, especially if they have a heavy workload, can create a moment specifically designed to help them de-stress.

Design a physical workspace that can help those who are feeling stressed find moments of solace:

  • Install a group workspace where employees spend time working and collaborating but with far less stress than in their individual offices.
  • A lounge where making tea and coffee is the norm might be the new idea that helps pull a stressed employee away from the daily grind.
  • An outdoor bench where employees can unwind and step away from the workplace without really leaving can help reduce workplace stress.
  • A meditation room for employees’ quiet time and deep breathing allows for immediate stress reduction on the job.

4. Take Control of Work Time

Workplace stress can cause serious health problems. Installing an organizational plan to help your team get in tune and aligned each week can help in stress reduction.

Try Meeting Mondays that set out what should be prioritized, what is most important, and why this week, and assign to-do lists that focus on the projects to be completed in the week ahead.

Creating rituals like this can help your team better deal with last-minute changes or competing deadlines.

5. Positively Connect with Employees

To reduce workplace stress, give your team leaders the tools to work with employees constructively.

Communication is the key to a positive work environment and encouraging employees to maintain a line of open conversation with superiors can help offload work stress.

Make sure managers know how to give negative feedback positively and embolden employees to have open lines of communication with senior members and co-workers by ensuring there are no communication barriers.

If you encourage open communication, nothing gets swept under the rug or overlooked, improving office morale and lowering employee stress levels across the board.

Encourage thoughts and words that help motivate your team to achieve their best, and train everyone to inspire others.

6. Offer Flexible Work Schedules

Can any of your employees’ work be accomplished remotely?

If so, offering them the choice of a flexible work schedule can help alleviate employee stress, especially if they have children or are taking care of a parent.

Being more in control of their daily life and not having to go into the office every day will immediately lower the amount of stress employees feel and will create a workplace and a job they find more accommodating to their personal needs.

This flexibility will make their lives that much easier while using tools like Google Hangouts and Slack can keep them constantly in the office loop despite their offsite location.

It’s increasingly competitive to keep the talent you want, and being able to offer more adaptable schedules can be a huge plus.

7. It’s a Matter of Health

In 2022, over 90% of businesses with 50 or more employees offered health benefits.

Stress causes both mental and physical health problems, and although a benefits package might feel expensive the positive returns vastly outweigh the dollar amount.

Employees with access to health insurance repeatedly perform better and are more loyal to a company.

To appeal to a generational workforce, employers may need to offer a variety of benefits that can be customized to meet the needs of employees at different stages of life.

Employer Tip: Edenred’s Lifestyle Spending Accounts give employees an incentive to get moving and emphasize their well-being through various transportation options, education benefits, meal benefits, and other lifestyle perks.

8. Avoid Unhealthy Eating Habits

It’s far too easy to turn to unhealthy options when it’s time to eat lunch or snack on the job, but many foods can negatively impact mental health.

Luckily, superfoods decrease the symptoms of workplace stress, thanks to their brain-boosting capabilities.

Look to add minimally processed, whole foods that are high in antioxidants to your everyday diet.

What Foods Can Reduce Stress?

  • Chamomile: An herb known for its calming, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory qualities; it can lower inflammation linked to anxiety.
  • Dark Chocolate: Contains flavanols and plant compounds that are antioxidants. Flavanols have neuroprotective effects benefiting brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain and enhancing cell-signaling pathways, allowing workers to adjust better to stressful situations.
  • Almonds: A solid source of healthy fats and vitamin E and thought to assist brain function, studies have shown they can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, part of the development of anxiety.
  • Blueberries: High in vitamin C and antioxidants, like flavonoids, the fruit has been studied for its ability to relieve anxiety and improve brain health.
  • Yogurt: Healthy gut bacteria, improved by the consumption of probiotics found in yogurt, can help mental health by buttressing the gut-brain axis (an intricate system between the brain and gastrointestinal tract).
  • Green Tea: Contains L-theanine, an amino acid studied for the positive effects it has on anxiety and brain health.
  • Salmon: Full of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, this fish promotes brain health by regulating dopamine and serotonin, yielding calming properties.
  • Turmeric: With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, the curcumin found in turmeric can promote brain health and prevent anxiety.

Employer Tip: Promote health, nutrition, and employee well-being withEdenred’s Ticket Restaurant. It can be used to pay for meals during working hours at local eateries, restaurants, grocery stores, and through food delivery apps.

9. Customize Employee Benefits

Edenred’s Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA) are flexible wellness solutions that provide employees with coverage for theirdefinition of a healthy work-life balance.

From fitness to meals, education to entertainment, family to pets, and more, Lifestyle Spending Accounts help to reduce workplace stress and boost productivity and well-being.

While employers get to customize the coverage and set the limits, employees choose which wellness is right for them and pay with subsidies and exclusive discounts.

Lifestyle Spending Accounts lets you support each person on your team in the best way possible with options they want to use.

10. Vacation Days

Consider the needs of your employees. Workplace stress can revolve around the difficulty of trying to fit life events into a work schedule.

Natural things like a death in the family, pregnancy, caring for a child, or being sick can all contribute to stress at work.

Make sure you are abiding by the family leave policies of your county, state, and country.

American workers took less time off than those in any other country, averaging only 11 annual vacation days in 2022, 8.5 days lessthan the global average.

A vacation can improve high blood pressure, reduce chronic stress, boost heart health, and improve personal relationships.

Make sure your employees are using their paid time off and vacation days!

How Edenred Can Help You

Employee stress can never be completely avoided, but it can be managed with your help. Be the safety net that catches your employees and devise a plan to reduce the stress associated with the job.

Encourage employees to develop end-of-day habits or personal rituals that help them unwind, allow them to take some time off, and ensure they’re aware of and can utilize every vacation day they’re given to relieve stress levels.

Discover more ways to help reduce stress in the workplace and better support your employees through your benefits package by scheduling a meeting with Edenred today.

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