It is unfortunate but true that work is often cited as a significant source of stress, and there’s plenty to go around. One in three workers surveyed, in fact, said they felt chronic stress on the job, according to the American Psychological Association. But employers and managers need not be powerless to these forces that can be destructive to well-being and productivity.
First, it’s important to understand there is a difference between good stress and bad stress, and researchers are starting to better understand that one’s attitude toward stress makes all the difference. In a typical stress response, heart rate increases and blood vessels constrict — which explains why stress is often associated with cardiovascular disease. When people view stress as a force that energizes them to take care of a given situation, however, the blood vessels remain relaxed and stress can actually work in one’s favor.
The key is to help people understand the stress response and leverage it, and you can help your team manage through stress with the tools you already have:
- Benefits and Resources: Company health plans and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can give employees access to mental health professionals, but you can go farther. These plans, along with wellness programs, company culture and even team meetings, present great opportunities to educate employees about stress management. Host a brown-bag workshop to give employees resources to help them recalibrate their physical and mental responses to stress. Or design a voluntary initiative that encourages the team to identify a stress trigger and explore new strategies to help them find a more productive response. Talk about stress to de-stigmatize and acknowledge that to stress is human..
- Work, Love, Play: That’s our ethos at ABD. Part of honoring that ethos is supporting people to do their best work, which a good team leader can pull off with fresh strategies. For example, be aware of your employees’ tight workloads just before and after vacation time. Beforehand, create space for play by helping that person set priorities and delegate. Upon return, allow them to set aside a half day for “re-entry.” Being a good listener is also hugely impactful, so practicing good listening skills as a team leader can translate to better stress management for an entire team.
- Team coping: When you get to the point where everyone can see stress as a helper rather than a foe, managing stress becomes far less daunting. Still, everyone needs to relax and blow off steam. Sometimes, a fun team gathering can be a potent reminder that self-care is key to both happiness and productivity, and may be just what a team needs most to connect and rejuvenate.
As a benefits broker, the ABD team can help you design programs that help your team manage stress. Not only will they see the health benefits, but you’ll also have a happier, more productive team. Contact us today to talk about your next steps.