It’s the most wonderful time of the year… except when it’s not. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people said their stress level increases during the holidays. Managers should be aware that this time of year contributes an additional load of mental and physical stress to their employee’s lives and that they play a key role in helping them manage their workplace stress.
As such, managers should be trained in recognizing the signs of employee stress, as well as how to help employees address these stressors. While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress entirely for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.
You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity. As an employer, you can take several steps to help employees reduce their work-related stress and achieve mental well-being:
- Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
- Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
- Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately—do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
- Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.
Aside from addressing job-related issues, you can implement a variety of activities and initiatives to help reduce stress. Some suggestions include the following:
- Provide a designated space where employees can sit quietly and use meditation to alleviate their stress.
- Offer exercise classes—exercise is a great way to relieve and even prevent stress. Offer a variety of class times (e.g., before and after work, or during lunch) as well as various types of classes—such as yoga and kickboxing.
- Provide employees with the education and tools to manage time and tasks, to cope with daily stressors and to prevent stress from damaging their health. You can present a stress management class or provide educational materials.
- Establish and promote an employee assistance program (EAP). If an employee is significantly stressed, it’s possible that they may seek unhealthy ways to cope with their stress. Offering an EAP can help employees get the help they need.
Additionally, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that employers:
- Implement organizational changes to reduce employee stress, including redefining roles and responsibilities, as well as providing reasonable accommodations, including flexible scheduling and telecommuting.
- Include mental health services as a covered benefit under their health insurance and encourage employees to take advantage of such benefits.
Another thing that employers can do is offer healthy food options at work. A study from the United Kingdom revealed that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your overall mental health. If you combine these recommended initiatives, you’re more likely to see positive results and a higher return on investment than if you only offer one initiative focused on mental well-being.
By giving your employees the tools and resources they need to reduce their workplace stress, you can help them be well on their way toward achieving a state of mental well-being not only during the holiday season, but all year round. Openly communicate your organization’s commitment to cultivating the mental well-being of your employees. Too often, employees don’t seek out mental health services because they feel ashamed. By communicating your commitment to mental well-being, you will incorporate it into your organization’s culture and everyday way of life. Doing so will help encourage employees to seek the services they need.