There’s never a bad time to consider how stress is affecting your employees — and what you can do about it.
While the traumas of the COVID-19 global pandemic highlighted the strain people are under, the serious impact of work stress extends back for years, and it won’t go away due to offices reopening. Your company can tackle this issue directly to show your employees you care about them, and to reap the productivity rewards that come with stress relief.
Stress and Work Today
Work is stressful — providing high-quality services on tight deadlines is always demanding. Employees worry about how they will be assessed and judged, and are eager to perform well enough to keep their jobs.
These timeless stressors have recently been joined by challenges that emerged or intensified during the pandemic. Some additional pain points included workers’ concern for their own health and their loved ones’ safety, anxiety about layoffs and a worsening economy, the unfamiliarity of new working conditions and more.
As career site Joblist revealed in its 2021 survey, only 27.3% of employees have low stress levels. That leaves 9.4% dealing with a high stress level and the vast majority — 63.3% — coping with moderate stress. High job stress levels are most prevalent at the biggest and the smallest companies.
When asked what was adding to their work related stress, respondents cited issues such as job security concerns, stressful news cycles, difficulties maintaining work/life balance and worry that their companies may not be doing well in the market. The No. 1 stressor, however, was an age-old issue: 48.4% of employees mentioned heavy workloads as a contributor to their anxiety.
This is a long list of issues for organizations to deal with, and leaders should take a two-pronged approach:
- First, resolving employees’ worries at the source by helping them manage their workloads or providing more detailed information about their job security to help lighten their burdens.
- Second, to help their personnel cope with the unavoidable stresses of modern work culture, employers should be thinking of ways to increase resilience, such as stress management training.
Stress management efforts may be absolutely essential to keeping the workforce happy and engaged. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a worrying sign for employers appeared: A significant increase in the belief that one’s company does not care about the well-being of its employees.
Gallup asked U.S. employees whether their organizations were invested in their wellness. At the beginning of the pandemic, the number was already below half — only 45% said they felt cared for. By February 2021, that figure fell to 37%.
These facts have given companies a clear mission: Pulling employees out of their stress-induced productivity problems and offering proof that their employers do want to see them thrive and excel.
You can further those efforts at your own business by investing in stress management training. An organized and well-selected program of stress reduction and wellness course offerings can assist your team members as they deal with the potentially damaging combination of traumatic circumstances and everyday stressors.
The Impact of Stress Management Training
Employees who are stressed and feel unable to cope with their day-to-day tasks won’t be capable of contributing to the company at a high level.
While each company can take different organizational-level steps to combat stress, such as adjusting workloads and adopting new management styles, there is a strategy nearly every business can embrace: Implementing a stress management training program. It has become clear in recent years that stress management training more than pays for itself.
An academic study carried out in the Netherlands found there is a 96.7% chance that a small per-person investment in anti-stress programs among employees will pay off within one year. The research revealed a return on investment of 2981/50, paying the company back nearly 60 times over.
Those financial advantages came from three sources. First, employees who became more skilled at managing stress provided better productivity on the job. Second, they displayed lower rates of absenteeism. Third, they also incurred fewer costs from “presenteeism,” in which employees attempt to work through illness with diminishing returns.
Occupational Health & Safety added that in addition to the budgetary benefits of relieving workplace stress, effective programs also allow businesses to show that their workplaces are employee-oriented, with a commitment to sustainable employment practices. When team members see the systems in place to help them thrive, it shows the company cares about their long-term prospects, and is actively helping to prevent them from burning out.
Training goes along with other workplace stress reduction strategies such as group discussions and the creation of wellness programs. ELearning Industry noted ways in which training content can interact with related tactics: For instance, when employees each share a favorite coping strategy, leaders can place these ideas in a centralized company database — alongside relevant training modules.
Stress Management Training Options
As befits such a wide-ranging subject, stress management training content takes many forms. When building your company’s library of educational content, you may prefer a course selection that includes stress reduction alongside other business skills, or on its own.
Stress management can also be broken down into more granular elements, such as using time more effectively, handling confrontation, building mindfulness, coping with mistakes and staying calm when facing daily anxiety triggers.
The exact mixture of stress management course styles and content should be customized to suit your team’s needs and preferences, as well as the nature of your workplace. One of the benefits of modern online training models is that it’s easy and affordable to build a flexible library of on-demand modules. Some lessons can be mandatory for the whole team while others can be taken on a role-by-role basis or offered as an option for workers who feel they need the extra knowledge.
Since stress in the workplace is an evergreen issue, dealing with it through training shouldn’t be considered optional. Your employees will deal with the effects of anxiety, pressure and worry on their own, and giving them the tools to overcome these factors can lift both the individuals and the company as a whole.