Stress is almost impossible to avoid these days. Of course, a little stress can be motivating, but too much or the wrong kind can have a major effect on employees and businesses. The World Health Organization estimates that stress costs American companies $300 billion a year in health care, sick days and lost productivity.
Despite this sizable sum, many companies aren’t addressing the underlying issue of stress. For example, only about half (54 percent) of US employees have access to some form of wellness program at work, according to the Global Wellness Institute.
I’ve found that it’s better to prevent workplace stress in the first place rather than let it fester. Venting around the water cooler or over G-chat can provide temporary relief, but it doesn’t solve anything.
Here are some preventative measures your company can take to combat stress:
- Foster a culture of communication – Gather feedback from employees via anonymous surveys or hold workshops during company events to share causes of stress and how to reduce it. Listen and take action.
- Commit to treating stress seriously – Without top-level buy-in promoting a safe environment to share about stress, people won’t be willing to talk about it.
- Change stress-inducing habits – Ensure that managers and employees alike are following simple rules for stress prevention: 1) When you take time off, really take it – don’t check work email; 2) Respect family and leisure time and don’t invade with after-hours emails or calls; 3) Clearly define roles and responsibilities and hire extra staff to take on extra work.
- Consider offering a wellness program – At Indeed, we offer a comprehensive wellness program and encourage all employees to use it. Wellness offerings can include yoga, tai chi or meditation classes, for example.
- Embrace open paid time off (PTO) – As I’ve expressed before, Indeed’s Open PTO policy is successful. Essentially, employees can take any number of vacation or sick days. Open PTO builds trust and gives our employees a chance to recharge. We find well-rested employees are happier and more productive.
The most important thing when tackling workplace stress is you have to mean it. If employees can’t step away from work to participate in a wellness program, it does no good. Empowering employees to participate in stress-reduction is the key to success. Let’s build better, healthier organizations where together we can all give our best.