Stress can be really devastating to people. It can affect their emotional and physical health. But work doesn’t have to be stressful – in too many cases, it becomes stressful because business leaders don’t know how to structure their companies to support people the right way.
Here are some practical stress relief strategies that everyone can use to feel better during this holiday season, as well as later when the new year rolls around.
It might seem so basic that it doesn’t need to be said, but in fact, we need to keep saying it. Exercise is critical to good mental health and a stress-free life. People can’t just sit around all day. They need to move. With so many sedentary jobs in today’s work world, people end up ‘feeling the burn’ of an inactive lifestyle.
However, exercise isn’t really something that the company can do for you. People have to choose to get up and walk or run or skip or jump or do anything else that will get the blood flowing and decrease the sedentary nature of the day. Enabling that is the company’s job.
Building Different Activities Into the Work Day
It’s also key to keep changing things up with any given workday or shift.
The vast majority of businesses just do not understand this concept. They’re tied to the idea of rote production — and so they set up ‘specialized labor’ situations where you work at a computer for eight straight hours, or stand behind a counter taking change for eight straight hours, or drive a truck for eight straight hours — you get the picture. The end result is that our jobs are either extremely strenuous and exhausted, or mind-numbingly boring and sedentary.
Companies that make the effort to diversify work activities can see a dramatic increase in productivity. For clues to this kind of idea, check out top tech companies like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft where wellness programs go further than just paying somebody to eat carrots, and where creative work is often melded with work that keeps people active during the day.
People also need to be engaged in their jobs. That doesn’t mean putting their noses to the grindstone and making them work harder. It means giving them a reason to care.
When work has quantifiable goals and quantifiable results, it makes people happier. When people can feel like they are on top of things, and that they share in the goals that are set, that helps, too. Empower people to make decisions, and you’ll improve their morale and productivity all at once.
Provide Outlets for Tensions and Conflict
People also need to have grievance procedures and processes that they can follow. In any company, problems are going to come up — they might be between individual employees, or between overloaded employees and a company system that they see as dominant and destructive. Make sure people have a safe space to talk about whatever’s bothering them, and you’ll take your staff’s stress levels down quite a few notches.
For more on all of the challenges that businesses face, and how to deal with them, check out the Full Steam Staffing blog where we provide advice to companies in the Ontario, California area.