5 ways to reduce stress in the workplace

Written by
Greg Levine

10 Dec 2015

10 Dec 2015 • by Greg Levine

Causes of stress in the workplace

Long hours, high demands, long commutes and constant connectivity to mobile devices have become typical attributes of the modern day office environment. Recent research from Britain’s Healthiest Company (BHC), measuring workplace wellness initiatives across all UK industries, shows that almost three quarters (73%) of employees suffer from at least one dimension of work-related stress, with time pressure being cited as the most common factor causing it. 

1. Embed wellness in company culture

Employee health must be a focal point of company culture in order to help bridge the gap between programmes on offer and employee uptake. We have seen a clear trend among this year’s BHC winners, all of whom have extensive health and wellbeing programmes embedded within their company culture. adidas UK, the healthiest medium sized company, for instance, offers onsite mental health clinics to all staff, which educate individuals on how to overcome issues that cause undue stress or emotional toil.

2. Introduce an incentives system

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, so by offering incentivised programmes and workplace wellness schemes, employers should see an increase in mental wellbeing among their workforce. There are a variety of programmes you can offer, ranging from exercise classes to free gym sessions and even simply removing sweets and sugary drinks from staff canteens. ‘Cycle to work’ schemes have become increasingly popular in urbanised areas and we are now starting to see the emergence of ‘stress reduction groups’ in the workplace. 

3. Promote work-life balance

A good work-life balance is proven to be the most effective anti-stress measure, according to this year’s BHC results, with 71% of employees saying work-life balance programmes were of benefit to them. Work-life balance initiatives in use at UK companies include flexible working, enhanced shared parental leave, paid study time and paid exam leave, long-service annual leave awards and buying and selling holiday. However, just over one third of companies (34%) offer work-life balance programmes, highlighting a gap where programmes need to be introduced. 

4. Tailor initiatives to individuals needs

Offering as many wide-ranging and engaging initiatives as possible should lead to greater participation; however, engagement remains most effective when tailored to the individual needs of employees. Old Mutual, BHC winner of healthiest small company, offers one-on-one counselling to its employees via its ‘employee assistance programme’. Through this initiative employees can get referrals to relevant healthcare professionals and confidential advice on any subject, ranging from bereavement and care responsibilities, housing, debt and even relationship advice.  While senior leadership buy-in is essential in creating this inclusive culture, so too is direct line manager engagement in proactively supporting the employee through stressful periods.

5. Communicate all initiatives

Communicating all of the above to employees is an essential component of any programme. There is currently a lack of communication between employers and employees, with workers not realising these programmes exist. BHC results revealed that a third of companies offer work life balance programmes yet only 8% of employees actually use them.