The holiday season is over, a new year is upon us, along with a return of day-to-day work, responsibilities and more zoom meetings. Beware, there is an inaudible enemy lurking amidst your zoom calls! It exhausts your energy levels, ruins your attentiveness, and eats away at your self-assurance. Your co-workers complain about it and your boss may not even realize or believe it exists. Who is this silent enemy?
Stress is the ultimate culture-killer within a workplace and it has worsened over the past year, due to the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on everyone’s lives.
Studies have shown that excess stress can cause a multitude of physical symptoms, such as migraines, chest pain, stomach illnesses, increased blood pressure, and even problems sleeping. Further, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have learned that stress has also been linked to creating mood disorders like depression and anxiety. And a team of researchers from Harvard and Stanford recently discovered that stress stemming from the workplace may in fact reduce your life expectancy. All in all, work stress is something we ought to be striving to minimize. Here are three easy tips that will help to reduce workplace stress.
1. Create a Buddy System
Creating a buddy system or mentorship program is extremely helpful in reducing the stress of individual employees while generating an overall healthier workplace for both staff, and the company culture as a whole. Connecting new employees to existing knowledgeable staff members through a mentor program can provide a sense of direction and support and help a company’s newer teammates familiarize themselves with the organization’s values, lingo and culture. A veteran employee will feel empowered as a leader and will benefit from the inevitable learning that comes when teaching others. A buddy system will help reduce stress by creating closer relationships and bonds amongst your team helping employees to thrive and grow.
2. Encourage Walking Meetings
The newest office fad that was gaining popularity before the pandemic hit was walking meetings. This beneficial new craze will hopefully continue amidst the pandemic. Discussing important topics while getting some exercise through a walk is easily done and in fact, our focus is likely improved as we are inhaling fresh air and not distracted by notifications popping up on our multiple screens. I have experienced many “walk and talks” with my own team and a number of other entrepreneurs in my network this past year and love how invigorated and focused I feel when I sit back down at my desk. Exercise and fresh air have been scientifically proven to reduce stress. Amidst the pandemic with everyone working remotely – why not encourage your team to turn off their video for at least one meeting a day (especially if they don’t need to be looking at a spreadsheet during the meeting), and get outside for a ‘walk and talk’.
3. Make Time for Play…Even at Work!
Typically, when one thinks of play at work, we might think “inappropriate” or “distraction” – employees ought to be focused on the business at hand. However, given my 25 years of experience in keeping adults playing – I would argue there is in fact huge value for both the individual and the corporation, in finding time for play in the workplace. Research suggests that play at work actually boosts levels of creativity, engagement, and productivity, in employees of all ages. Encouraging some time for work teams to play, laugh, and connect – whether on a sports field, via a virtual Escape Room or enjoying a customized game of virtual company Trivia – the great benefit will be derived for both the employees and the business in doing so. Embracing some adult playtime provides a massive stress release, creates improved team-bonding and thus engagement within the workplace, while also leading staff members to feel more joyful at work. Play within the workplace creates a more collaborative happy team of employees – which in turn leads to happier customers and better results for the organization overall.
While dealing with workplace stress was a real and problematic issue before the 2020 pandemic – workplace stress continues (and is likely exacerbated) even when working on a laptop from the living room couch. But the good news is – this intense stress for our co-workers and organizations is definitely resolvable. Hopefully by choosing to implement some of the easy tips above you and your team will experience a reduction in stress and an improvement in the company culture!