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Anxiety, back pain, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, weight gain or loss. It may sound like a pharmaceutical ad, but it’s actually a list of common symptoms associated with stress: uncomfortable when experienced on their own and potentially dangerous taken together.
April is Stress Awareness Month, and the truth is that stress is almost impossible to avoid these days. We live fast-paced lives under high-pressure circumstances. What’s more, stress has a major impact on the workplace: The World Health Organization estimates that stress costs American businesses $300 billion a year in health care, sick days and lost productivity.
That’s more than the net worth of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates combined! And yet, according to the Global Wellness Institute, only 54% of U.S. employees have access to some form of wellness program at work.
So what can we do about this?
It’s better to prevent than vent
Whether you’re a C-suite executive, a newly appointed team leader or an individual contributor, the first step to reducing stress is to discover what’s actually stressing you and your teammates out. Venting around the water cooler or through G-chat can provide temporary relief, but it’s not really solving anything.
Here, a culture of communication and listening is key.
A few ideas for gathering feedback: talk to your manager, or if you’re a manager, ask individual employees during one-on-ones or team meetings, work with your HR team to create an anonymous survey or hold workshops during company events where everyone can share about what causes them stress and discuss how to reduce it.
But all of this will just be talk if you are not committed to treating it seriously. Remember, it’s critical to create a safe environment where people can really open up. If the people you work with don’t feel that you’re serious about helping, they are not going to trust you.
So above all, listen. Then take action.
That middle-of-the-night email you’re about to send? Don’t do it
Once you have identified the sources of stress, there are different ways to tackle the problem. Some are actually pretty simple.
For example, if you’re in the habit of bombarding your coworkers with after-hours emails, you can, well … stop doing it. Respect people’s family and leisure time, and they’ll likely be more productive during work hours. (In fact, France and Germany have “right to disconnect” laws that ban after-hours emails entirely!)
When you take time off, really take time off — don’t keep checking your work email. Or actually attend that yoga class at lunch.
Beyond that, stress from conflicting expectations could be alleviated by clearly defining all team members’ roles and responsibilities. Issues caused by interpersonal relationships at work might be resolved by holding workshops on better communication or providing coaching on conflict resolution.
And then, if your team feels overworked, you could allocate budget to hire a new team member, reducing overall workload and stress.
Here at Indeed, we have a comprehensive wellness program and encourage our employees…