One of the most frequent emotions expressed by working Londoners around early January is how stressed they are about going back to work after the break. The weekly “Sunday blues” is also a common conception; the hashtag has over 150 thousand posts on Instagram.
So as employers, how do you make the workplace a better environment for your employees… or if you are hired by a company that currently has high levels of stress amongst the workforce, what can be suggested to help make that balance any better.
We spoke with Jason Downes, Managing Director of conference call service provider, Powwownow, who shares his thoughts on how to create a stress-free working environment.
There are many different causes for a stressful working environment, and they don’t always take shape in the form of workload: sometimes, the company culture or office surroundings can breed stress.
A stress-free workplace is a happy workplace, and the more you can do to support employees, the less stressful the office will be.
1. Set up an open office
Arrange an open office, where staff can have a chat with an HR manager about anything that’s bothering them – whether it’s about work or not. Creating an open culture where people feel comfortable discussing problems can help HR to spot warning signs early and tackle stress-related issues before it’s too late.
2. Distribute a mental health survey
Send out an anonymous survey to find out what the business can do to improve staff members’ mental wellbeing at work. Doing so will show your employees you’re actively listening to them, and most importantly, ensures no one is suffering in silence. It’s also a good way to raise awareness about mental health among peers.
3. Show your appreciation
We all know the impact that tight deadlines and busy schedules can have on our emotions. Give your employees a boost to show them that you appreciate their hard efforts – even if it’s just treating them to a nice lunch. Showing your employees that you care goes a long way, and will improve morale for when the next inevitable busy period hits.
4. Arrange regular meetings with managers
Make a conscious effort to support staff by encouraging managers to set up regular meetings with team members. This will allow employees to voice concerns and offer their own feedback. Giving staff the added reassurance that there is someone there to directly support them is an easy way to take some of the pressure off.
5. Create comfortable surroundings
The office aesthetic can hugely impact someone’s day. Noise can be distracting, poor lighting can cause headaches, a stuffy office can make it hard to concentrate, and a cold space can create irritability.
Make sure you have a good temperature control system and incorporate subtle lighting to reduce the likelihood of headaches. It’s important to keep the space tidy, too. Ensure there is adequate storage to organise belongings and encourage regular desk clear-outs.
6. Make the office feel welcoming
Beyond providing the general comforts, creating a visually appealing office will go a long way in increasing positivity. A creative environment inspires creativity, just like an uninspiring workplace will leave people feeling unmotivated. Place leafy plants around the office, hang up some artwork, and inject some colour to lift the mood. You could even place a comfy sofa in a quiet corner where can take a five-minute breather.
7. Encourage exercise
Exercise is a great remedy for alleviating stress. Encourage employees to take a walk on their lunch, even if it’s just to the coffee shop around the corner. Or, you could go the extra mile and arrange for a yoga instructor to teach some classes once a week.
Restorative physical activities are great for promoting positivity and can go a long way in bringing teams closer together. And above everything, a strong support network is key when it comes to beating stress.