Workplace Stress: What Can You Do?

Word International Stress Awareness Week wrapped up on November 9, but recognizing and responding to stress in the workplace is a good practice all year long. According to their 2017 Stress in America Survey, the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that in 2017, 61% of Americans report work as a major source of stress. The top five work stress factors reported in APA’s 2106 Work and Well-Being Survey were: low salaries, lack of opportunity for growth or advancement, too heavy of a workload, unrealistic job expectations, and long hours. Younger workers were more likely to report experiencing stress during the workday.

Anxiety and stress is on the rise among young workers and college students. In her SHMR article, Dana Wilke writes that anxiety, not depression, is now the most common reason college students seek counseling, and quotes Claude Silver a Human Resources officer for VaynerMedia, saying that in the future, HR departments might need to incorporate professional therapists into the employee assistance programs their organization offers.

What can individuals do to reduce stress levels at work?

Wellness coach and author Elizabeth Scott, MS, suggests a number of ways to deal with stress in her article “9 Simple Ways to Deal With Stress At Work.” Among others, they include getting off to a good start with good nutrition and a positive attitude, avoiding conflict, staying organized, and taking time for a walk at lunch. She also takes aim at multitasking, a skill many people prize but that can negatively affect an employee’s productivity as well as mental state.

What can employers do to reduce stress at work?

Having realistic expectations, fostering positive relationships with employees, and encouraging employees to take breaks during the workday are a few ways employers can contribute to a healthier work environment.

Dr. Steven Aldana, professor and CEO of WellSteps, states that stress at work costs billions of dollars annually and lists 24 ways employers can help curb stress in their workplace in his post. They range from good communication (providing feedback, sharing company vision with employees, and helping them see how their work contributes to company goals) to creating a spirit of cooperation and respect, to encouraging breaks during the day. Flextime and alternative working schedules are other possibilities.

Modeling healthy behaviors

Employees are less likely to take breaks during the day if they never see their boss taking one. Relaxing and developing friendly relationships with co-workers and managers isn’t easy if you don’t see smiles or hear laughter in your workplace.

We all know how important modeling is in other areas of our lives. Parents who want to instill a love of learning in their children will be more successful if they are curious about the world and enjoy learning themselves. Genuine attention to their children’s questions and supporting their interests go a long way towards encouraging lifelong learning. People are more likely to listen attentively if they feel listened to themselves.

How are you doing?

We all take cues from the behaviors of those around us. What messages are you sending to your employees or staff? Will they feel OK about taking a mental health or sick day if you never do? How are you contributing to a pleasant, healthy workplace?

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Mary van Balen
Mary van Balen
Technical Writer at Delphia Consulting
Mary van Balen is based out of Columbus, Ohio and is a writer for Delphia Consulting. Mary contributes to the Delphia blog on Human Resources issues and Delphia Consulting and Sage product related updates.