From the Blog

How to combat workplace stress

Let’s talk about stress. Here’s what we know:

  • Americans are stressed out — especially during the holidays
  • 75 percent of Americans have experienced stress symptoms in the past month
  • Workplace stress is real
  • Stress takes a toll on your people: It weakens their immune systems, negatively affects their moods and causes them to overeat

The good news? Stress in the United States is at a seven-year low. But despite this, the American Psychological Association reports the average stress level is still too high.

What’s making your employees so stressed? We’ve got five things they’re freaking out about and what you can do.

5 contributors of stress:

1. Money

Money is the number one stressor for Americans, with 72 percent feeling stressed about it at least some of the time. And it doesn’t help when people don’t feel support to help manage their finances effectively (only 6 percent of employees feel their organizations do).

To help combat budget stress, invite financial experts to present in-person or host online workshops. Equip employees with various tools to create a financial plan. Challenge them to automate their savings and put away at least 10 percent of their income every month. Learn more about these challenges with our three best practices to help employees achieve financial wellness.

2. Relationships

Whether it’s with family, friends or significant others, our relationships significantly affect our psyches. In fact, 47 percent of Americans say family responsibilities are a top contributor of their stress. Balancing work and life is stressful in itself, but when you throw spouses and children into the mix it’s a whole nother game.

Focus on the whole employee, rather than separating who they are in the office and who they are at home. Give employees flexibility to set a schedule that works best for their family needs and provide supports so they feel they can integrate work and life. And for more about this integration, take a look our Why work-life balance is dead e-book.

3. Uncertainty

Uncertainty can be overwhelming, regardless if it’s a major life change or minor plans up in the air. Excessive worrying about things that may or may not happen can leave employees feeling pessimistic, irrational and out of control.

When employees find their minds racing, encourage them to take a few minutes, close their eyes and focus on breathing. Meditation helps improve outlook and stress levels. For more ways to take a breather, check out our five strategies to be more mindful at work.

4. Multitasking

Switching from task to task — and spreading your attention — comes at a cost. It’s easy to get sucked into constant connectivity, but always-on technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A University of California, Irvine study found employees who interrupt work to respond to emails experience a perpetual “high alert” mode with higher heart rates compared to co-workers who don’t multitask as much.

Lower your employees’ stress levels and increase productivity by rewarding them for focusing on one task at a time. And encourage them to take a walk, power down and step away from the screen at least once a day.

5. Lack of sleep

Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress. In addition to causing crankiness, lack of sleep takes a toll on employee productivity as well.

Read carefully: Lack of sleep causes stress but stress also causes lack of sleep. Help employees break this vicious cycle by challenging and rewarding employees who cut off all screen time at least 20 minutes before bed.

If you’re itching for more, dig into our stress management resources.