April: Stress Awareness Month

Mental stress has a tremendous impact on physical health. Stress manifests itself in symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, ulcers, and more. Over the long term, stress is proven to lead to much more serious complications such as cardiovascular disease. The CDC identifies stress as a risk factor in five out of the six leading causes of death in the United States; cancer, stroke, heart disease, respiratory disease, and accidents. If stress is behind so many fatal illnesses, the important question is; what causes stress?

The American Psychological Association revealed in a 2017 study that work is the third leading cause of stress, with 61% of respondents identifying their job as a major stressor. Stress is clearly one of the most prominent and overlooked health risks in our society. As an employer, it’s both your responsibility and your best interest to keep your employees in good health. By reducing stress in the workplace, you reduce the amount of sick time needed by employees and you also increase productivity.

That’s why stress management measures should be included in your workplace health program. If you want to improve health in your workplace, you need to create a culture that destigmatizes work-related stress, encourages open communication, and actively supports healthy stress management.

Here are 6 steps that will help you make your workplace more healthy by reducing employee stress:

1. Communicate

It’s essential to communicate with your employees. Speak with them one-on-one and ask how they are feeling about their workload, responsibilities, coworker relationships, etc. If they know you care about their mental health, they will be more likely to communicate with you when they are feeling stressed.

2. Balance Workload

Overwhelming workloads and deadline pressure tend to be the most common sources of workplace stress. Pay attention to your employees’ workloads or appoint someone to manage them closely. Be realistic about deadlines and encourage employees to speak up when they are having trouble balancing their work life with their personal life.

3. Be Flexible

Everyone has different needs. Treat every employee as an individual and be as flexible as you can without losing too much efficiency.

4. Keep an Organized Infrastructure

A lot of job stress comes from confusion about responsibilities, processes, positions, etc. Make sure the infrastructure of your company is clear and sensible. Keep standards in your processes and make sure that everyone knows exactly what they are expected to do.

5. Make Support a Standard

Encourage a workplace culture where employees won’t be apprehensive to ask for a helping hand. Lead by example and ensure that all employees and management understand that it’s part of their job to support each other. Cooperation is key.

6. Provide Training

In most cases, workplace stress (though reduced) will still exist after you’ve implemented the steps above. A stress management training program can help your employees learn healthy coping mechanisms. It could also help you create a stress-free company culture.

OccuMed of New England provides workplace stress management training programs to businesses across New England. Our training programs help leaders identify workplace stressors and find ways to combat them, laying the foundation for a healthier workplace. Learn more about our services here: http://occumedne.com/