April is National Stress Awareness Month (as if we needed the reminder). Stress is a natural feeling that, like most things in life, can be beneficial in small doses, but too much stress can be a major hindrance to our productivity, creativity, and overall health.
It’s understandable that a lot of us are stressed out right now, and it can be easy to let stress overtake your wellbeing. It’s extremely important for you to check in on your how your employees are doing, and to make sure they aren’t becoming too stressed out from work.
Every leader is responsible for promoting employee health and creating a workplace environment that helps reduce stress. Here are a few ways to do that:
The Big Fixes
Encourage employees to take time off (and make it possible for them to do so)
Encouraging employees to use their vacation time without any fear of repercussion is essential to maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. Mental and physical breaks are refreshing and invigorating, and allow people to come back excited.
Of course, vacation days are of no use if the work will just pile up while you’re gone. That’s why it’s also essential to set up systems where the extra work gets covered and people are able to take their vacations without work looming over them.
Allow for flexible work schedules
One of the biggest sources of stress is often feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to have a life outside of the office. For parents in particular, flexible hours and the opportunity to work from home can help reduce stress by making it easier to pick the kids up from school or to be home for bedtime. Flexibility allows for better work/life balance, helping to reduce stress.
The Simple Fixes
Create a more cheerful work environment
The physical space people work in can have a surprising impact upon their employee satisfaction and stress levels. A dark, cold, uninviting office simply isn’t fun to work in. It does nothing to brighten the mood. Anything you can do to bring natural light into the workspace, to liven up the colors on the walls, or to enable employees to decorate their own workspaces can go a long way.
Offer healthier snacks
If the only snacks in the breakroom are junk food, that’s going to make people feel sluggish. Energizing foods that also taste good (fresh fruits, granola bars, string cheese) can help your employees make healthier choices that leave them feeling more energized.
If your office is large enough, you can put together walking groups where people from different departments take a half-hour stroll together once a week. In any size office, rather than having your next meeting around a conference table, consider having it standing or walking. The meeting will move faster, people will be more engaged, and you’ll all get some exercise!