Workers across the world are feeling burnt out, under-appreciated, and underpaid. While the responses to this work epidemic manifest distinctly for different workers, the majority are feeling one thing: stress. Reducing workplace stress should be a priority of every business internationally. 

Stress in the workplace can detrimentally reduce employee efficiency and productivity, while also leading to higher employee churn rates and increased company resentment. Alternatively, high rates of support for employee wellbeing can supercharge productivity and create a dynamic and leading workplace.

In this article, we’ll dive into some of the leading strategies for managing and reducing workplace stress. We’ll outline the core causes of stress in the workplace, demonstrate its negative impacts, and point your business toward tips for creating a better work environment.

Let’s dive right in. 

Recognizing the impact of workplace stress on employee wellbeing

Work and the workplace are two integral parts of the vast majority of the general population’s daily lives. Each year, we spend around 1,800 hours at work, on average. Considering the extra hours we lose each day to sleep, work accounts for a huge percentage of our active waking life. With that in mind, if someone doesn’t enjoy their workplace, this can have a grave impact on their mental wellbeing.

Workplace stress can lead to poor performance and even frequent employee turnover. Around 20% of the payroll budget each year is lost due to employee burnout and the lower productivity that is associated with it. What’s more, employees that are experiencing burnout are 2x more likely to look for another job and nearly 65% more likely to not show up to work at all.

When stress eats into the life of an employee, almost every area of their life is affected. Considering that over 50% of all workers relate to feeling burnt out, this is a workplace epidemic that businesses need to tackle as soon as possible. By creating a better workplace environment, employees are likely to feel less stressed and work harder.

A study published by the University of Oxford found that workers that are happy in the workplace are 13% more productive than those that are not. This isn’t even accounting for the huge productivity loss felt by burnt-out coworkers, which further increases the productivity gap.

What causes workplace stress?

Nearly 80% of all workers feel stress when they’re at work. A large portion even feels the aftereffects of a stressful job when not at work, the pending tasks and obligations hanging over their heads.

While on the job, there are a number of potential causes for workplace stress:

  • Bad management
  • Being overworked
  • Stressful or high-risk circumstances

All of the examples can cause workplace stress, especially if they routinely happen without breaks. Continual exposure to these circumstances can negatively impact employees and rapidly change their perspective on the workplace.

How can businesses create a healthy work environment and reduce workplace stress?

The map below demonstrates global rates of engagement with work, ranging for high engagement in areas of South East Asia and the States to low engagement in Europe. However, even in areas where engagement is highest, the figures still top out at only around 33% of employees feeling engaged. The vast majority of employees across the globe are either actively disengaged or apathetic.

Graph of employee engagement by region

Disengagement stems from feeling stressed and overworked. If people feel incapable of keeping up with the levels of production that their business requires, they are more likely to lose interest and start looking for other jobs. In order to overcome this trend, here are a few leading strategies to reduce workplace stress:

  • Create a Corporate Wellness Program – 52% of US businesses use corporate wellness programs to boost employee wellness.
  • Offer Comprehensive Benefits – Benefits like additional pay, paid time off, and other benefits can increase engagement and reduce stress in the workplace.
  • Four-Day Work-Week – There is no better way of reducing stress in the workplace than offering more time off. The four-day workweek is coming into fashion across the globe as it can increase productivity by 55% while also reducing workplace stress. 92% of companies that have tested this working method are keeping it going forward.
  • Focus on Support – Every week, you should offer your employees the chance to sit down with a manager and discuss what’s on their minds. This could be time to talk about future plans and progression or simply a few minutes to ask for help with work. These meetings will demonstrate to your employees that your business cares about their mental wellbeing and wants them to succeed.
  • Invest in the Office – By investing in office phone booths, green spaces in the office, and comfortable work equipment, you can have a staggering impact on employee wellbeing. Plants can reduce stress and increase concentration in the office, according to a study by Urban Forestry.

There is no one-size fits all solution that helps to reduce workplace stress. In fact, the most effective workplaces when it comes to creating a positive workplace culture are those that take a holistic approach. Don’t just select one of the solutions on this list, try them all in tandem to snowball your results.

Your employees will thank you. 

Final Thoughts

Reducing workplace stress is one of the most important tasks that C-suite executives and managers have to tackle. Not only does stress lead to a poor quality of life, but it can also reduce productivity and harm businesses. Focusing on creating a positive workspace environment where employees feel supported is a win-win for everyone.

By incorporating the strategies that we’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able to start to turn the tide on workplace stress. Reducing workplace stress won’t come overnight, but will make a huge difference to your business, your workers, and the atmosphere of your workplace when it does.