Don't Let Stress Cripple Your Organization!
As an employer, you don't need to go it alone or be the one actually counselling each employee or initiating lifestyle changes
We are no strangers to stress as a country, with stress scores higher than neighbouring China as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany! And sadly, the workplace is where much of this tension originates. Left untended, stress can impact not just productivity and absenteeism, but also put employees at heightened risk of depression and suicide.
Corporate India has to address this elephant in the room – and fast! But even the most well-intentioned organizations are often overwhelmed by the sheer canvas of the problem. How do you overhaul how a diverse range of employees and teams deals with stress? How do you tackle triggers that lie outside the workplace? The answers lie in a simple but effective 3-tier fix.
Getting to the Core: Fixing Stress Both Inside & Out
The battle against workplace stress takes consistent effort. Work layer by layer, inside and out, and you'll soon chip away at the stress weighing down your employees.
The Outer Layer: Make The Environment Less Stressful
Environmental changes to the physical workplace and some tweaks to work policies and culture can be a decisive starting point. And when you fix the outer layer, you help not just one employee but every person across the organization.
Start by offering avenues to destress. While you may not need to invest in high-tech sleep pods as they do at Google, relaxation rooms with greenery, music, or some comfortable massage chairs are a great way to help employees unwind in the workspace. Take a page from Unilever who has a quiet room set aside for employees to de-stress. SoundCloud's Berlin office has relaxation zones that are very analogue to help people really switch off. Think vinyl records, board games, a collection of books, all old-school and designed to help you unplug and destress!
Routine yoga and meditation sessions can also help calm frazzled nerves. Airbnb provides free yoga classes to their employees while Apple simply allocates 30 minutes a day for employees to meditate. To improve accessibility and provide 24/7 support, offer virtual sessions and resources.
To instil a culture of well-being and stop stress from being an indicator of contribution to the company, shoot down benchmarks like "most hours worked" or "least leave taken." Instead, value health, productivity, and outcomes – rather than vying on who worked later or longer, let employees compete on wellness or fitness challenges like they do at Nike's Lunchtime Basketball Leagues! On the policy front, too, make changes that matter:
Remember, stress could even be a symptom of deeper mental health issues. To tackle underlying causes, make mental health a priority for the organization, encouraging open conversations and offering the right support.
The Middle Layer: Fix 1-1 Interactions
A lot of stress is generated by communication breakdowns or contentious situations with supervisors, coworkers, and subordinates. Offer training in areas like communication and goal setting so employees aren't overwhelmed by impossible tasks.
Supervisors, too, need to be trained to handle flareups as well as spot signs of stress like dipping productivity or quality of work, errors, and absenteeism. They can also gauge best if workloads and schedules are realistic. Take a cue from some Indian tech majors who conduct employee sensitization programs so peers, as well as managers, can spot signs of stress, anxiety, and depression. As one survey found, 49per cent of line managers would actually welcome such basic training.
The Core: Empower Employees To Manage Their Stress Better
What they say about teaching a person to fish applies here too. Empower your employees with tools to identify stress triggers and they'll have coping skills for life. A 5-pronged approach can help:
As an employer, you don't need to go it alone or be the one actually counselling each employee or initiating lifestyle changes. The right wellness partners can devise a 360-degree approach for the office and hand-hold individuals personally. There's much you can do as an enabler and support system to quash workplace stress. Give it a go and you'll see what a difference little changes can make to your people!