While small and controlled amounts of stress can provide an extra edge to your professional life, too much stress will present a slew of issues that can negatively affect your personal and professional lives.
Living in today's hyper-connected and fast-paced world, it's easier than ever to become overwhelmed with stress.
In fact, around 8.3 million American adults suffer from some form of stress in their daily lives. In a 2017 Stress in America report by the American Psychological Association, 61 percent of Americans reported work being a top stressor.
There are numerous causes as to why stress in the workplace is steadily increasing. But as Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, a board-certified psychiatrist at Doctor On Demand shared with me recently concerning stress in the workplace:
"Common causes of workplace stress center around increasing demands and workload, lack of job security, trying to find work-life balance and conflict with co-workers. While there are certainly specific jobs that can be more stressful than others, it is more important to consider the fit between the person and the work environment. While some thrive in fast-paced jobs where every day is different, someone else might be very stressed by that type of work environment."
Workplace stress is something that has its fingerprints on every facet of our lives. "Workplace stress has been shown to have a larger impact than other sources of stress like family and finances. People spend so much of their day at work, and it is easy to see why stress on employees can have long-lasting effects" says Dr. Benders-Hadi.
People not only spend much of their day at work, but it's oftentimes unstructured which leads to decreased productivity and increased difficulty to establish consistent healthy workplace habits. According to Dr. Benders-Hadi, stress trickles into all facets of our lives and two areas in particular: nutrition and sleep are greatly affected.
"Carrying work stress home, for example, can lead to things like sleep deprivation which is associated with impaired immune response and reduced cognitive performance. Doing things like skipping lunch to keep up with the workload can not only negatively impact your nutrition and metabolism, but can also lead to other health complaints and reduced productivity."
Managing workplace stress and establishing a culture where healthy eating options are easily accessible is important because employees energy levels, leadership capabilities, and the ability to perform with more accuracy are at stake.
As Dr. Benders-Hadi mentioned to me, "it is estimated that as many as one million workers are absent every day due to stress. The impact of absenteeism on companies due to health issues is significant."
When it comes to reducing stress in the workplace, start with these two simple methods.
1. Create open door policies forged by employee insights.
To truly take control of workplace stress, it's imperative to understand the pulse of your employees which starts first and foremost through great communication channels. After emphasizing two-way communication channels, the next step is to assess the work environment.
"Companies should make every effort to provide a work environment that is supportive, where feedback is routinely given and received, and where employee satisfaction is measured and evaluated" says Dr. Benders-Hadi.
To begin executing on this idea, hold staff retreats, surveys, and monitor employee satisfaction with the intention of creating more friendly policies with employees mental well being a top priority.
2. Implement stress management tools into the companies DNA.
When you create a company culture that places a premium on employees mental well being, retention improves along with the companies bottom line.
A couple areas to look into is your current iteration of company work-life balance and employee development.
When it comes to work-life balance, offer flex starting times, mental recharge days, and paid time off instead of sick leaves. Concerning developing your employees, look into courses and trainings on leadership, conflict resolution, personal resilience, and diversity and inclusion among many possible topics.