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6 Ways To Cultivate A Low Stress Work Environment

Posted by Insightlink on 09/30/15


Sure, a good work ethic and strong ambition are keys to success, which drives increased professional and financial opportunities. But our culture also suffers from the glorification of busy. If you're not overwhelmed — merely surviving — at home, and especially at work, then you're not doing it right. Longer hours, late-night emails and weekend check-ins are believed to be badges of honor and equate to status. The associated stress is just par for the course.

High levels of stress impede health and wellness, from sedentary lifestyles to lack of sleep. Second to money, work accounts for 60 percent of stress, according to the Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association. Not only can stress take a toll on health, but it can negatively affect relationships as well. The APA reports that 41 percent of adults who are married or living with a partner said they've yelled at their spouse because of work stress and 18 percent said they were short with a co-worker.

To help combat the glorification (and suffering) of busyness and stress, employers can make cultivating a low-stress work environment a priority. Emphasize the importance of breaks, work-life balance and open communication to discuss any frustrations. The following 10 tactics can also help create a productive and efficient environment where employees can relieve and manage stress.

Work from Home

A work-from-home policy, whether twice a month or twice a week, provides an employee with a day to recharge while still working. Working in a new environment can stimulate creativity, refresh the mind and increase efficiency by encouraging better work-life balance and eliminating office distractions. The option to work remotely enables an employee to step away from their everyday workstation and practice productivity with fresh surroundings.

Six-Hour Workdays

The trend of six-hour workdays is permeating across Scandinavia — boosting efficiency and reducing turnover, reports the Guardian. Inspired by shorter workdays for nurses at a Swedish retirement home, the six-hour workday can help improve energy and alertness. Employees learn to maximize their time. Increase focus and motivation within your employees by offering six-hour workdays on Fridays or a week of six-hour workdays as a performance incentive.

Breakout Spaces

If your office environment is consumed by rows of cubicles, wall offices and conference rooms bright with fluorescent lighting, you may want to reassess the space. Enhance your office with breakout spaces near windows where employees can have informal chats and escape from their desks. Outfit this space with casual furniture that employees can relax on while soaking in vitamin D from sunshine, exchanging ideas or simply letting their minds turn idle.

Gifts of Gratitude

With heavy workloads and tight deadlines, hard work can get overlooked. Yet, taking the time to express appreciation and show gratitude for another co-worker's efforts can create positive energies in the work environment, which can relieve stress levels. Develop a gratitude program that encourages employees to recognize other employees for going above and beyond. Awards can be greeting cards, gift cards and even gift baskets full of fruit or cookies.

Ergonomic Furniture

Our office culture perpetuates a sedentary lifestyle, which can create general discomfort and lower back pain. These everyday physical stresses can create extra tension that increases mental and emotional stress. Invest in high-quality ergonomic office chairs or provide the option to have a standing workstation. An adjustable monitor arm can position screens at eye level and reduce neck strain. Also, wireless Internet can free employees from their desk and enable them to work in a different location (e.g. a breakout space).

Healthy Culture

Sitting for prolonged periods can not only cause physical strain and tension, it can increase serious risks of metabolic syndrome, heart attack, stroke and lower life expectancies. Sitting becomes habitual, and many people maintain this level of inactivity 24/7 without any outlets for relieving or managing stress. Help make a difference by promoting healthy and fit lifestyles inside and outside of the workplace. Active meetings, gym membership discounts, active team-building events, fitness-oriented post-work "happy hours," and nutritious potluck lunches can help alleviate high stress levels associated with unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles.

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