How to help employees manage stress at work
By: Mady Peterson
Americans are stressed out — and work is the leading source of personal stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
More than three-quarters of adults report physical or emotional symptoms of stress, such as headache, short temper and difficulty concentrating, according to the APA’s 2019 Stress in America survey. Chronic stress can take a toll on your people, resulting in anxiety, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and can contribute to health conditions like depression, obesity and heart disease.
Nearly 3 in 5 adults say they could have used more emotional support in the last year, according to the survey — the highest proportion since the APA first asked the question in 2014.
And stress at work can impact your business through lower productivity and employee burnout.
What’s making your employees so stressed at work? Here’s what they’re concerned about and what you can do to help manage stress in the workplace.
5 causes of stress at work
Money is the No. 2 source of personal stress for Americans (behind work), according to the APA survey. Money and work stress are intertwined, as common workplace stressors include low salaries and having few opportunities for growth or advancement.
To help combat money 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% of their income every month. Learn more about these challenges with our best practices to help employees achieve financial wellness.
Whether it’s with family, friends or significant others, our relationships significantly affect our psyches. Integrating work and life is stressful in itself, but when you throw spouses, children and remote work into the mix it’s a whole other 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 work-life integration, take a look our Why work-life balance is dead e-book.
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 stressed at work as well as pessimistic 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.
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 with 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.
Free download: 5 ways to combat stress
Download our Stress Tip Sheet, a great resource to send to your employees or to hang in a public space. In simple terms, it outlines 5 things your employees might be freaking out about — and the best ways to fix them.
Free burnout playbook
Learn more about how to tackle your workplace burnout challenges by visiting our ultimate guide for overcoming employee burnout.