Stress is an unavoidable consequence of every employee’s life on-the-job. Whatever your corporate environment, there are steps managers can take to protect employees from the damaging effects of stress, improve job satisfaction, and bolster well-being in and out of the workplace.
While occasional stress, or the pressure to perform, is what keeps us on our toes during presentations, provides the energy to pull off an all-nighter, and sparks quick reactions when needed to prevent accidents or costly mistakes — long-term exposure to constant stress at work, not only causes a faster heart rate and tense muscles in the moment, it brings on chronic anxiety, exhaustion, and eventually burnout. In fact, the negative consequences from long-term stress are so strong that it has been declared a World Wide Epidemic by the World Health Organization.
An article from The American Institute of Stress states that 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. A 2016 Health IT Stress Report found that 55% of tech professionals are frequently or constantly stressed – with 38% rating their stress intensity as high or extremely high. These statistics are important, especially for companies in fast-paced industries with highly competitive marketplaces for talent, because stress plays a critical role in retention and recruitment.
What top managers are doing to reduce workplace stress
Recent research shows that being appreciated is one of the most important factors that increases motivation and satisfaction as well as health and well-being. According to the World Health Organization, employees are less likely to experience work-related stress when demands and pressures of work are matched to their knowledge and abilities – control can be exercised over their work and the way they do it – support is received from supervisors and colleagues– and participation in decisions that concern their jobs is provided.
The Society for Human Resource Management offers other ways forward-thinking managers can help employees handle stress:
- Encourage your team to take advantage of stress-management webinars, wellness tips or programs, and yoga or meditation classes. Set an example by using these resources yourself.
- Make sure workers are taking regular breaks and be sure to take them yourself.
- Encourage employees to exercise daily, take time for friends or a significant other after work, pursue hobbies, listen to music and take time off.
The mind-body connection is key for shrinking employee stress levels
Innovative managers are championing on-site fitness classes, chair massage, and yoga and meditation as key to employee satisfaction. Body Techniques specializes in designing programs to lower workplace stress, emphasize mindfulness, and improve employee gratification and engagement; we know first-hand that employees who feel their employers care about their health and well-being tend to be happier and when employees have a positive attitude about their job, it translates into less time missed from work and improved loyalty to their company.
In the years we’ve been working with corporations nationwide, we’ve helped many successfully implement mind-body stress management programs. Here’s what we know works:
- Exercise is one of your best weapons against workplace stress. On-site fitness classes take employees’ minds off their work challenges and improves moods by increasing the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. For employers, fitness classes can bring additional benefits, including lower insurance premiums. These can often be obtained through a verified fitness program – a reward for creating a healthier workforce.
- On-site chair massage not only relaxes muscles and improves circulation, it boosts employees’ energy and their mental outlook. Documented links between stress reduction and massage therapy have opened many managers’ eyes to the value of investing in massage for employees.
- Workplace yoga programs offer movement and meditation to help employees experience a deep state of body-centered restful awareness both on and off the mat. Employees leave refreshed, relaxed, and resilient. Leading companies such as Apple, Google, and Forbes have introduced yoga and reaped benefits like improved productivity and increased employee motivation.
At Body Techniques, we’ve found that companies that offer chair massage, fitness classes, yoga or meditation sessions as employee benefits, and who provide these stress reduction programs free or at a low, subsidized rate to their employees have a much higher rate of participation.
There isn’t a manager alive today who doesn’t agree that modern workers feel stressed out and the stress is taking a toll on their sleep, health, relationships, productivity and sense of well-being. The good news is that these innovative stress management options are actually simple, cost-effective strategies that support productivity and provide managers and employees with more sense of control and a welcomed break from the demands of the job.
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