The Well-Being Journal

Don’t Stress – Employee Well-Being Is Simple

Jennifer Rudloff

Whether it stems from work, family or finances, stress is a part of life that’s tough to fully escape. While external pressures will always come and go, there are steps that we can take to help to manage and eliminate stress in our daily lives, and they don’t have to be costly solutions.

There are many ways that employers can help reduce the stress of their employees, we’ve outlined a few stress-reducing ideas that could be executed in almost any workplace. On an organizational level, these activities are very inexpensive, or in many cases, free.

  • Walking during lunch: Even if it’s just for 15 minutes each day, taking a brisk walk around your office can allow employees to clear their heads and return to work feeling refreshed and with more focus. Depending on the climate, organizations might consider creating indoor walking paths around the office or outdoor walking maps of the surrounding areas. To take it one step further, think about organizing walking moais for your colleagues, or consider providing pedometers to make walking a little more fun (they could even download an app like monumental to their phones.) Fun fact: pedometer users walked at least 2,000 more steps each day than nonusers, increasing their physical activity levels by 27%. Regardless of how they choose to move, there are many benefits to moving more at work.
  • Office pot lucks: Whether it’s company wide or with individual teams, organizing office pot luck lunches once a month will allow your employees to connect with each other over a nice meal. These could be themed for each month – but the company should always encourage healthy choices. Having regular “non-work” events like this breaks up the workday and provides an incentive that employees can look forward to, rather than stressing about current tasks at hand. It will also help to build a collaborative environment and provide a sense of belonging, which can help drive engagement.
  • Group athletic activities: Company stress-busting initiatives don’t have to require major financial investments. You can build a culture that supports fitness activities and add a little fun to the workday. It can be as simple as allowing employees flex time so that they can go visit a local yoga studio. Or it could mean encouraging employees to bring in their favorite fitness DVD’s (or providing them a library of choices) and allowing a space to gather together and sweat.
  • Organizing clubs: Clubs are a great way for employees to connect on a social level inside and outside the office. Organizations should communicate to their employees that clubs are welcome, and that these clubs can use the company setting (such as conference rooms) for gatherings or discussions if needed. Whether the group focuses on food, books, tea, or other interests, communicating the acceptance of non-work-related clubs to employees indicates that your organization supports the lifestyles of employees outside of the office. If possible, the company could also donate a few healthy snacks for club meetings.
  • Lunch breaks: This sounds like a no-brainer for stress reduction, but in a time when many companies are doing more with less, many employees have taken to eating lunches at their desks on a regular basis. In fact, some 70% of Americans report to eating at their desks several times a week. Encouraging your employees to take lunch breaks, even short ones, allows them to take the time to actually focus on enjoying their lunches (which can help to prevent mindless overeating), and connect with colleagues. Furthermore, desks dirty – in fact, on average; desks are 400 times dirtier than your toilet.

While some worry about the “loss” of productivity that comes with giving employees time for their own mental and physical health, improving the well-being of employees has actually been proven to increase workplace productivity. Think about it: taking an hour –or even half an hour – each day to clear your head allows you to return to work with a clean mental slate. When we feel fit and focused, we’re better workers.

If you’re looking for a point person to help set some of the above ideas in motion, try your company’s human resources director or manager. We bet they’ll be happy to work with you on investigating ways to improve the well-being of the people at your company, particularly those that can be done with minimal investment. For more ideas on decreasing stress while simultaneously increasing productivity, contact us about our solutions.

How does your company help decrease the stress of its employees?

Topics: Healthy Living Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Stress Social Well-Being Stress Management

Well-Being at Work: Managing Stress

Jennifer Rudloff

Stress is an inevitable part of our lives. Whether it comes in the form of a pressing deadline, a family matter or financial discomfort, we're all going to feel the pressure of stress at one time or another. The good news is there's a way to deal with it. Elmo Shade is part of our Leadership Development team at Healthways, he's also our resident expert on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). In this video Elmo talks about some of the principles of MBSR and provides some healthy ways to respond respond to and manage stressors.

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Topics: Meditation Exercise Workplace Well-Being Health Stress Mindfulness Elmo Shade Healthways Stress Management

Well-Being and the Workplace: Is Yours Stressing or Supporting Your People?

Jennifer Rudloff

Does employee well-being affect the workplace? Most people intuitively answer yes, and we’re seeing more and more evidence to support this belief through the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index® data and other research. One recent analysis showed that employees with the lowest well-being scores cost businesses about $28,800 per person per year in lost productivity due to sick days, while those with the highest scores cost only $840. But what about examining the relationship from the opposite side? Does the workplace affect well-being? It’s an equally important question, and as it turns out, the answer is also yes—in many ways.

Commuting Stress
Let’s start with getting to and from the workplace. An analysis of WBI data found that the longer the commute, the lower the overall average well-being score. About one in five U.S. workers spend more than 30 minutes getting to work. Those who do are more likely to be obese, have high cholesterol, and experience neck or back pain. When compared to individuals who work 10 minutes or less from home, those with a one-way commute longer than 90 minutes are more than 42% more likely to report feeling worry for much of the previous day. They’re also 9% less likely to report feeling enjoyment, and 14% less likely to report feeling well rested. They also exhibit more anger, experience more stress, and eat more poorly.

Work Stress
Nearly three-quarters of Americans reported work as a significant source of stress in a 2007 report by the American Psychological Association. Another report indicated workplace stress can be linked to heart disease, apart from other health factors such as weight, smoking, or family history. People with higher self-reported levels of stress have measurably higher cortisol levels—a hormone that, if elevated over time, can lead to negative health symptoms and disease. One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a 30% difference in rates of heart disease between those with positive perceptions of their work environment and those with unfavorable perceptions. The study measured aspects of the work environment influenced by management, including getting criticism, praise, and information from a boss.

Reducing Stress & Boosting Well-Being
Organizations seeking to reduce workplace stress—and positively impact well-being—might consider:

  • Offering flexibility in work hours or work-at-home options to reduce commuting stress.
  • Providing management development programs that encourage positive on-the-job feedback and strengthen supervisor skills in areas like interpersonal communication

The Healthways Well-Being Assessment™, a comprehensive tool for measuring well-being within organizations, considers other influences on work environment, including:

  • An individual’s level of satisfaction with the work
  • The ability to use professional strengths on the job

Is your organization taking steps to boost well-being through a better work environment? Please share your thoughts and strategies.

Topics: Commute Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Well-Being Index Competitive Advantage Stress Stress Management Boost Well-Being work stress