Stress Management Initiatives – Caring for Employees and the Bottom Line

Work-related stress significantly impacts both employees and their employers. A recent survey showed that 25% of employees viewed their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.

For employees that can mean issues such as high blood pressure, greater risk of heart attack, ulcers, chronic fatigue and muscle aches. For employers it can mean a decreased work force and lower productivity. Globally, it is estimated that companies lose $200-300 billion dollars a year to stress-related productivity loss and treatment.

It’s a situation that can be transformed from no-win to win-win if organisations choose to make an investment in the well-being of their workforce. Many businesses do this by offering stress management programs. If your workplace is thinking of incorporating a stress management program, here are six options worth considering:

Fee-based services

After-work exercise classes such as yoga or Zumba, or in-house 15-minute chair massages during lunch can help. Services such as these should be paid for by participating employees. If enough participants sign up the price per person can often be greatly reduced.

Stress management workshops

Companies may choose to bring in professional speakers to hold stress management workshops and teach employees effective stress management skills. Employees can sign up for the workshop and attend during the workday as part of their professional development.

Management training

Let’s face it: some workplace stress is caused by supervisors with poor management skills. Whether it’s micromanaging; delegation without granting appropriate authority to complete the task; not making the parameters of the task clear, or being disrespectful to staff, managers have the ability to set the atmosphere for productivityor frustration. Making sure they are adequately trained in areas of conflict resolution, effective project management and other supervisory skills can help them foster a more constructive and less stressful work environment.

Quiet rooms

These areas are removed from the hustle and bustle of the office. They have doors which can be closed to block out noise, as well as a couch where employees can grab a quick restorative nap, or calm their nerves through meditation, reflection or prayer. Some companies also equip their quiet rooms with low lighting and soft music. A few uninterrupted minutes to relax and focus during lunch or a break can make a big difference to a flustered employee.

Walking groups

Staff members can sign up to walk before or after work, or during lunch. Schedules can range from a couple of days a week to every workday, depending on interest. This is a no-cost activity – participants just bring their shoes and a set of comfortable clothes. Enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, and getting some good cardiovascular exercise are both great stress relievers.

Create a healthy culture

Many organisations have wellness programs in place that encompass both stress management and overall health. This often involves creating a committee that plans regular events or implements policies such as:
1. Lifestyle challenges
2. Smoking cessation classes
3. Employee fitness incentive programs where the business reimburses staff a set percentage for gym membership fees and equipment
4. Adding vending machines that offer healthy snacks like yogurt, fruit, water and juice, for staff members who are trying to stay away from the usual fare of chips, chocolate and fizzy drink.

The bottom line

The advantages of stress management programs for employees are obvious. According to the 2010 report, “The Health and Productivity Advantage”, the benefits to companies with active wellness programs are pretty impressive too. Some results include 11% higher revenue per employee, 1.8 fewer days absent per employee and 28% higher shareholder returns. These businesses are also more likely to have lower levels of turnover relative to their industry peers.

These metrics show that companies that provide stress management programs can positively affect their bottom line while also positively impacting their staff. That’s a win-win.

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