Let’s face it: stress is an inevitable byproduct of having a job. Some people are better at handling it than others, but no matter a person’s position – entry-level worker, middle manager, or top executive – it’s something we all deal with. Sometimes stress is purely work-related, sometimes home life creeps into the equation, sometimes it’s inherited; whatever the case, it’s ingrained in who we are and what we do.
Stress is especially pervasive in the corporate arena, and it will only continue in today’s hyper-competitive global marketplace. In an era when quarterly earnings reports and focusing on the bottom line matter more than ever, it’s easy to see how stress correlates.
Why it is essential to find ways to reduce stress at work
This is why it is vital that employers devise ways to reduce stress at work, because undue stress can lead to poor results.
According to the World Health Organization, the cost of stress to American businesses is as high as $300 billion. And unless we change course, this will only get worse. Over the last 30 years, self-reported levels of stress have increased 18 percent for women and 25 percent for men.
Thankfully we’re seeing more and more leaders understanding the costs associated with stress, and they are creating programs to relieve it.
Stress-relieving programs that can easily be implemented in the workplace
One simple practice employers can use that is easy to implement is mindfulness training for their employees.
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future or getting caught up in making judgments about what’s happening. Doing absolutely nothing – not even thinking – for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment, has transformative power.
Employers should set up a mindfulness training class on-site at their workplace and encourage employees to participate. Group classes are easy to administer and don’t require any additional space. In many cases, a large conference room will suffice. Once employees have the necessary tools in place, they can create their own mindfulness schedules and programs to help them reduce stress.
Other stress-relieving programs can include yoga classes and other exercise programs. It’s important to encourage employees to be active and create environments for them where they can exercise on the job. For example, build a walking-track around your work campus and give employees extra break time so they can reduce stress by going on a walk or jog.
These programs work.
According to the iOpener Institute, in a company with 1,000 employees, reducing stress and increasing happiness in the workplace:
- Reduces the cost of employee turnover by 46 percent.
- Reduces the cost of sick leave by 19 percent.
- Increases performance and productivity by 12 percent.
And the happiest employees, compared with their less happy colleagues, spend 40 percent more time focused on tasks and feel energized 65 percent more of the time.
Reducing employee stress goes a long way toward improving performance. A great place to begin is mindfulness.