In recent years, business leaders have become increasingly aware of the toll that stress takes on employees. In one recent survey, nearly three-quarters (73%) of CEOs said their organizations offer assistance for managing stress.
But even the best intentions don’t always lead to positive results. And a new global analysis conducted by Gallup found that stress levels in the workforce have reached “an all-time high” — topping the previous year’s record levels. Forty-four percent of workers surveyed said that they had experienced a lot of stress during the previous workday. Most (60%) said they felt “emotionally detached” at work, and 19% were downright miserable. “Employee engagement and well-being remain very low, and it’s holding back enormous growth potential,” the survey found. In the United States, workers are among the most stressed in the entire world.
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Like many executives, I’ve had to lead my own staff through especially stressful times, particularly during the pandemic. And because of the nature of my work at Gympass, I’m also constantly engaging with all kinds of businesses to help them improve wellness in their ranks. These experiences have shown me what works and what doesn’t. In this article, I offer three ways managers can make a difference when it comes to combating stress and supporting employee well-being.
Take a Holistic View
Offering meditation at work is nice, but this alone won’t do much to alleviate stress levels if the root causes are left unaddressed. For that matter, making sure your insurance includes coverage for mental health is another important part of incremental change, but it’s not enough on its own.
To combat stress, help employees improve their overall wellness. Research shows that physical exercise reduces stress and improves mental health. Giving employees time and opportunities to engage in a wide variety of physical activities is crucial. Only when they find something they love to do will they keep at it. For some, it could be yoga classes; for others, it might be joining an office running club, kayaking team, or softball league. Other employees might find that going for a walk outdoors each day provides the right form of exercise and restoration. (For me, it’s working out every morning at 6 a.m.) Offer resources for people to discover activities they love without pressure or judgment.
Another piece of the puzzle is financial wellness.