April is National Stress Awareness Month, and it comes at one of the most stressful moments in recent history for American workers.
Stress Awareness Month
April is National Stress Awareness Month, and it comes at one of the most stressful moments in recent history for American workers. Even though we are two years removed from the beginning of the pandemic, a recent survey makes it clear that workplace stress levels remain high with U.S. adults feeling emotionally overwhelmed and fatigued. Additionally, stress levels continue to rise due to newer concerns including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and financial strain caused by inflation.
How Stress Has Changed at Work
Over the past two years work-related stress has been stirred up by a host of new and interesting dynamics including hybrid work models, vaccine mandates, and other variables. Even though summer is approaching and there are reasons to be optimistic, work stress is not something to be set on the wayside. It can accelerate all sorts of problematic conditions like “Zoom burnout,” which have become real obstacles to healthy living.
5 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress
Dealing with workplace stress with employees in a supportive way and helping them cope day-to-day is its own unique challenge apart from everything else. There are limits to how much an employer can really help, and it’s tricky to navigate without causing additional stress. Fortunately, there are many effective approaches out there that can make it much easier. Here are five that come to mind:
- Expand Mental Health Benefits – Nearly 40% of employers expanded mental health benefits during the pandemic including offering digital and telehealth services. Patients and therapists no longer need to meet in-person, and offering a digital environment with easy access in itself can help reduce stress.
- Encourage Physical Activity – Stress results mainly from a buildup of cortisol, aka the “stress hormone” in the body, which is normally expended through physical activity. It’s much harder to avoid being sedentary lately, so boosting wellness programs and encouraging even moderate exercise is probably the most direct and effective way to alleviate anxiety-related behavior.
- Manage Email Overload – With so many aspects of our daily work life going remote and so many ways to stay in touch at all hours of the day, there is a real risk of over-communicating with employees and causing needless amounts of “email anxiety” to the mix. Always balance outreach with a healthy amount of personal space to help keep the lines between work and life separate.
- Schedule Flexibility – What does the term “9-to-5” mean anymore? With so many daily responsibilities blurring together with how we work for a living, especially for at-home caretakers and working parents, flexibility with scheduling and workload is becoming a major desirability factor on the job market. Among millennials, the largest workforce segment, 92% identify flexibility as a top priority while job hunting.
- Check in Personally – Regular one-on-ones, whether by video chat, phone call, or some thoughtful texts, provide the human connection some may have been missing out on in in the past couple of years, and are becoming a common feature of the new “hybrid” workplace. They fulfill a huge slot in our common Hierarchy of Needs, namely safety and belonging.
Less Stress, More Success
A version of this post was previously published on the HALO Recognition blog.