By Hollie Simpson

Did you know that workplace stress is currently one of the leading causes of employee fatigue and burnout? Today’s digital workplace has seen a rapid rise in how many apps and devices we use, with the average employee switching between 11 apps up to 27 times per day to do their work. This constant context shifting depletes concentration, impedes agility, and disrupts focus, leading to an increase in stress.

We’re often glued to our screens waiting for the next notification to grab our attention, but even something as simple as eating your lunch outside or filling up your water bottle gives your brain a much-needed break from work.

So, let’s talk about some simple strategies you can implement that will help to avoid stress negatively impacting your workforce. Here are my top ten tips to help you reduce workplace stress and create a healthier working environment.

1. Managing excessive workloads: is the pile only getting bigger?

According to the Australia and New Zealand Autonomy of Work Index 2021, workplace stress has emerged as one of the biggest factors of employee fatigue, with 77 per cent of employees in the Australasia region experiencing burnout at least once in 2020. Keeping an eye on the workloads of your employees by ensuring staffing levels meet demand will help to minimise your team feeling the pressure of stress.

2. Encouraging regular breaks

Promoting any opportunity for employees to take a break, is the first step to ensuring your staff are getting up and moving around during the working day. So, whether your employees need to set reminders or write post-it notes, encouraging them to take regular breaks will help them reset and refocus before jumping back into work.

Pro-tip: find a couple of easy exercises and stretches employees can complete every time they get up from their desks, this will help staff achieve a better work-life balance.

3. Creating a stress-free zone

Noise is something we can’t get away from, some people thrive in it, and others need peace. And even if we don’t mind the general chatter of office space, kitchen, or work site, sometimes we need a quiet place.

Create a calm space for your employees where they can rest, relax, and reset. This will become an invaluable asset to your business. Allowing your team to switch off and have a zone where the stress melts away can improve productivity and overall employee satisfaction.

4. If it can be an email, why is it a meeting?

Most, if not all our meetings today are conducted on a screen, with hybrid working models and teams scattered across the country making face-to-face meetings harder to organise. There are many ways we share information whether it’s via instant messaging apps, phone, or email but it’s always best to make it clear what warrants a meeting and what doesn’t.

Communication is key in any workplace and ensuring your team can speak up and say they might not bring value to the planned discussion, will help to streamline meetings, and ensure that only those who are required will be in attendance.

5. Prioritising health and well-being

Did you know that regular exercise and healthy eating choices can improve your mood and boost your immune system? When employees are stressed these important parts of our day-to-day life are often the first things to fall from the to-do list. Whether it’s being mindful on a Monday or feeling good on a Friday, there are many ways businesses can encourage health and well-being activities within their organisation.

  • Mindful Mondays: suggest tuning into a meditative podcast during lunchtime
  • Tasty Tuesdays: circulate an easy-to-make healthy snack within your team
  • Wellness Wednesdays: promote the benefits of exercise by incorporating walking meetings into the day
  • Thirsty Thursdays: challenge your staff to increase their water intake, aim for two litres a day
  • Feel Good Fridays: inspire competitiveness with a step challenge

6. Setting clear expectations

If a staff member’s role or responsibilities aren’t clear from the outset it will only lead to frustration and the build-up of stress. Ensuring every employee has concise and detailed directions is essential in setting clear expectations, rules, and responsibilities. If you have any specific requirements for a task, make that very clear from the start – it’ll improve efficiency, reduce pressure, and minimise the likelihood of time-wasting.

7. Supporting work-life balance

Flexibility in how we work has become a core ingredient in our jobs now, it’s given many employees the work-life balance that’s been missing in the five-day, location-based work week. Returning to the office isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario; it should aim to achieve the balance each employee is looking for – this will not only make your employees feel valued but also that they’re trusted to complete their work.

Let’s face it, at the end of the day if the work is done and your employees are happy, everybody wins!

8. Communication: stop, look, and listen

Employees talk and employers should listen – communication is the starting point for change and growth, it helps businesses identify their needs and adjust. Listening to your people whether it’s through offhanded comments, formal performance reviews, or employee engagement surveys, following through with effective actions can make all the difference. Encouraging open and honest interactions will not only assist in clearly setting standards and expectations but also allow your staff to have an outlet to share their stress.

9. Team building events and activities

Building a social culture that is inclusive and open to all ensures that there are activities that cater to the different personalities that co-exist in the workplace. Whether they’re face to face, after hours or virtual during work hours, these events help forge a sense of comradery and can give employees a support system, so they don’t feel they’re alone in their stress.

10. Lead by example

When it comes to people management, honesty is the best policy. It’s essential that you lead by example when it comes to workplace stress, embodying the values and virtues of your workplace is a good place to start – it’ll help build a culture of openness and transparency. Recognising and appreciating the efforts of your employees will help make employees feel like they’re valued whilst also ensuring that their health and well-being are a priority.

Do you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? A range of work and personal problems can negatively impact the health and well-being of your employers. Having an EAP in place is an effective means of giving your team access to professional support services that they can use on a free and confidential basis.

How enableHR can help?

We believe HR should be simple. Simple enough for you to run your business confidently. Inside enableHR is everything you need to manage the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment and onboarding to managing your people and termination. If you’d like to see enableHR in action, contact us to learn more about how we can help your business.

Hollie Simpson is the People & Culture Coordinator at FCB; enableHR’s sister company. Hollie is passionate about creating meaningful HR initiatives that add value to our people and our company’s culture. In addition to her role in HR, Hollie heads up FCB’s Social Committee and is always on the lookout for new ways to engage and connect with colleagues.