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Creative ways to reduce employee stress

Workplace stress can heavily impact employee mental health and productivity levels, so employers need to find ways to improve well-being in the workplace.

While there are plenty of traditional methods to help promote wellness, such as mindfulness and meditation, there is also a place for more creative ways to reduce employee stress.

In our report, ‘Tackling polarised perceptions in corporate health and wellness’, we found that 47% of global employees feel stressed because of work and 80% rate their company’s benefits designed to tackle stress as adequate or poor. These figures highlight how important it is for employers to find effective ways to tackle stress and support good mental health in the workplace.

Employers should also ensure that they have a comprehensive mental health policy in place to appropriately support those struggling with stress-induced mental health issues and other mental health-related problems.

To reduce stress and in turn build a happy, healthy and productive workforce, consider trialling some or all the following creative initiatives.

7 creative ways to reduce stress at work

1. Add greenery to your scenery

Whether you opt for lush greenery or vibrant flowering plants, adding indoor foliage to your workspace can have positive effects on your workforce. Many Studies have shown that indoor plants can help reduce stress levels, boost productivity and improve concentration. They can also have therapeutic effects and improve indoor air quality.

2. Create a well-being area

You could also try creating a wellness or well-being area or corner – a dedicated space where for employees to relax and alleviate feelings of stress. This means no meetings!

Whether you create a wellness room or a calm corner, there are plenty of ways you can dedicate an area to well-being. Try introducing to the space plants, cosy lighting and relaxing activities like mindful colouring books, stress balls and reading materials.

3. Introduce weekly stress-buster activities

Specifically designed to reduce and relieve stress, there are several stress-busting activities that you can introduce to the workplace. For example, you could:

  • Hire a yoga instructor every afternoon
  • Bring in a masseuse every other Wednesday morning
  • Host a team fitness/exercise session each week for 20-30 minutes
  • Bring in a professional to conduct a meditation session every Wednesday afternoon.

You could even try more simple, everyday activities such as providing mindful colouring books to dedicated well-being areas.

4. Welcome natural light

Bringing natural light into the workspace can help to improve people’s overall mood. Relying less on artificial, fluorescent light is also a benefit to employees because studies suggest that exposure to fluorescent light appears to elicit an elevated stress response in some people.

If bringing natural light into the space isn’t possible due to a lack of windows, for example, you could introduce alternative lighting to fluorescent light. LED lights are not only more eco-friendly than fluorescent lights, they can also be better for employee health as they are less likely to trigger headaches and migraines.

5. Take walking meetings

Whether it’s a one-on-one meeting or an entire team meeting, try implementing walking meetings in which you venture outdoors to a public space such as a park, and you simply ‘walk and talk’.

Walking meetings encourage employees to leave their desks and have healthy breaks away from their screens. They also promote movement, exercise and spending time outdoors, which can all help to reduce stress and improve overall mood.

Alternatively, you could organise optional group walks regularly throughout the working week. Regardless of duration, when or where, offering workers the option to take a short walk during the workday can help to reduce and relieve stress, as well as encourage exercise.

6. Implement flexible scheduling and remote working

Demands for flexible and remote working are more prominent than ever, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many workplaces to adapt to working from home and flexible schedules.

Globally, many employees seem to enjoy a more flexible approach to working. Our ‘Polarised perceptions of corporate health and wellness’ report revealed that 81% of employees would return to the office if they can still work remotely for part of the week.

Some major sources of workplace stress include work-life balance, working hours and lack of organisation. To help tackle these issues, employers could introduce flexible schedules and remote working options. For example, if the working day usually starts at 9am but an employee needs to start at 9:30am instead for a particular reason (e.g. dropping off kids at school or picking up a prescription), they should be given the flexibility to adjust their working schedule.

Implementing flexible scheduling and remote working can positively impact work/life balance and in turn, reduce employee stress levels. The freedom of flexibility can also help to boost office morale because it shows that you trust your employees and have confidence in their abilities to manage their workload in a manner that is both timely and suits their needs.

7. Doggy daycare

Dogs and other pets are known to reduce anxiety and stress which is why introducing them to the workplace can be a great idea. You could have a dedicated day every week when employees bring their dogs to the office or work with a local therapy animal group to hire some therapy dogs for a few hours every month.

If it’s possible, consider making the office dog-friendly permanently.

Support employee well-being

Finding effective ways to reduce employee stress and support well-being is key to a happy and healthy workforce. Here at Aetna International, we offer a range of services, tools, apps and other resources to our members, helping employers like you to promote wellness across your organisation. Learn more about our Aetna Well-being member benefits.

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