Did you know that before there was a worldwide COVID pandemic, there was a worldwide work-related epidemic? The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it to be true in 2019.
They said that workload, lack of job security, and personnel problems "gang up and overwhelm employees." In 2021, post-pandemic (almost?) job security isn't much of a problem. Available positions are everywhere, but people just don't want to fill them. However, while that stressor may not exist today, it was replaced with all the fears and insecurities the pandemic brought into our lives.
Because workplace anxiety costs businesses an estimated $300 billion a year, studies have produced stress reduction techniques that employees and leadership can implement to successfully quell the anxiety that strikes at the stroke of 8 am.
If we have learned anything in the last two years, it's that doing the hard thing can be done. Whether you are jumping for joy at going back to the office or pulling the covers back over your head, here are some research-based suggestions to make the workday a little less stressful.
Build your Own Personal Workplace Wellness Toolkit
Most of you have the eat, sleep and move part of healthy living ingrained into your mind by now. If you eat right, get 8 hours of restful sleep, do thirty minutes of heart-pumping exercise, oh, and get mindfulness in there too, you will live a long and healthy life.
Those are all good, healthy, stress-reducing ways to live. But reducing anxiety in the workplace will require a bit more than a Sunday stroll through the neighborhood and ten minutes of mindfulness exercises. It is going to take some thought, followed by some simple readjustments. Start by asking yourself:
How do I function in the workplace system?
Do I hide from my boss?
Do I gossip with the worker next to me?
Do I include or invite others into conversations, especially new
Do I wait until I'm so upset, I burst into tears before speaking up?
Do I arrive on time and not overspend my lunch and breaks?
Do I set realistic goals and deadlines or let my boss know if the workload is unmanageable?
Once you have given some thought to your role and conduct at work, you can use these strategies to be calmer and leave work at work.
• Make Your Morning Count
Don't start your day by hitting the snooze button three times or ten times. Try setting your alarm for ten minutes earlier than you usually get up. This has the same effect only when you get up, you'll be on time.
If you have a family to care for in the morning, prep as much as possible the night before. Rushing around looking for shoes and backpacks when you should already be down the road makes you stressed before you ever walk through the office door and sets a terrible tone for the day.
• Know Your Coworkers’ Names
Building solid one-to-one relationships with your coworkers makes it easier to engage in small talk, extend lunch invitations and address problems that may arise rather than gossip or venting to other coworkers. The "guess what he said – she said" game puts you on the fast track to a whole host of problems and stress.
• Ask for Help and Stay Organized
Work gets a little chaotic from time to time, or maybe all the time. Many people will tell their boss "yes" to a project even though can can't meet the current deadlines. Asking for help sets reasonable expectations and sets you up for success.
A disorganized workspace leads to a confused mindset. Clutter makes people feel anxious and crowded. You may not logically mind the mess, but your body reacts as though you are in high-stress mode.
• Access Resources
The majority of workplaces offer counseling or other assistance through their Employee Assistance Programs. (EAP) They are available to you usually free of charge. They will connect you with mental health resources, a therapist, a support group, or any other assistance you may need for anxiety.
Supervisors Can Do It Too
As a supervisor, you know that every employee is different, so you need creative approaches to managing workplace stress and anxiety. These strategies are excellent general solutions that can help everyone.
• Encourage Wellness in the Workplace
- Encourage employees to walk at lunchtime
- Offer subsidized gym memberships
- Have a steps contest for people with fitness trackers
- Offer healthy snacks in the office or do a monthly, healthy potluck
"Employees feel looked after and therefore
valued when they think their supervisors
care about their health. Workplace satisfaction rose from 66% to 83% just from management offering healthy snacks."
• Encourage Social Activity
Employees spend a lot of time together, probably more time with each other than their spouses. The more comfortable everyone is with each other, the less conflict they are likely to have. Communication barriers tumble, and employees begin to problem solve amongst themselves.
• Acknowledge Achievements
It feels good to be appreciated and acknowledged for a job well done. Be creative with employee recognition and tailor each instance to your employees’ personality. Some people love attention, while others hate being in the spotlight.
Remember, workplace stress affects everyone, somehow, somewhere at some point in time. If you learn effective coping techniques and your supervisor utilizes these suggestions, your work life can be just as good as your home life.
You don't have to use them all. Just find the ones that work best for you and then step into a calmer, happier you.
Hundreds of organizations support their employees through The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Investing in the right EAP to support your employees before, during and after they face adverse events will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.
Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.
The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Interpersonal conflicts
• AND MORE!
Coreno, B. (n.d.). Work-Related Stress: 5 Ways To Reduce It. Retrieved from Upplifter: https://www.upplifter.com/2020/12/14/work-related-stress-5-ways-to-reduce-it/
Kathleen Smith, P. L. (2020, February 24). Work Anxiety: 10 Tips to Manage Anxiety at Work. Retrieved from Psycom: https://www.psycom.net/10-ways-manage-anxiety-work
Occupational health: Stress at the workplace. (2020, 10 19). Retrieved from World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/ccupational-health-stress-at-the-workplace
Ryba, K. (2019, August 27). 7 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress in the Workplace. Retrieved from Quantum WQorkplace: https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/7-ways-employees-can-reduce-stress-in-the-workplace
Workplace Stress. (n.d.). Retrieved from The American Institute of Stress: https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress/