According to the American Institute of Stress, an estimated 75–90% of visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related disorders, and studies confirm that occupational pressures and fears are the leading source of stress for American adults. In fact, approximately 40% of American workers say that their jobs are very or extremely stressful.
An infographic created by Eastern Kentucky University’s Occupational Safety program illustrates how companies spend about $300 billion annually for missed work days and health care resulting from workplace stress. That’s a huge price tag, which doesn’t account for the lowered productivity of disengaged people. According to Gallup, 70% of American employees are slowing economic growth by not working to their full potential.
There are a lot of ways employees can mitigate tension and anxiety while promoting wellness at work. Topping the list are connecting with others, being prepared, getting enough rest, calming the mind, getting the blood moving, giving back, getting outside, relaxing the body, and finding mental focus. Here are quick, tech-friendly ways to go after each.
Using a workplace show that everyone is watching is a good way for people to connect to one another. Gretchin Rubin states in her podcast that people who are happy at work often say they have a lot of really strong relationships with their colleagues. Having a common interest such as a show everyone is watching can promote workplace wellness by encouraging widespread connection.
In his TedTalk, How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed, Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin discusses how you’re not at your best when you’re stressed. In fact, your brain has evolved over time to release cortisol in stressful situations, inhibiting rational, logical thinking but potentially helping you survive, say, being attacked by a lion. Levitin thinks there’s a way to avoid making critical mistakes in stressful situations, when your thinking becomes clouded — the pre-mortem. He says, "The idea is to think ahead to what failures might be.” When we visualize what might happen, we’re better prepared.
When employees stay awake burning the midnight oil working, they can miss out on needed sleep. Most of us don’t get the 7–8 hours of sleep we’re supposed to have each night, so if you encourage employees to get rest, such as sufficient breaks between shifts and shutting down the computer on weekends to relax, you’ll see a boost in energy, productivity, and creativity.
Nearly 18 million Americans meditate regularly to mitigate stress. Encourage employees to practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, for example, by downloading a mindfulness and meditation app that helps them quiet their minds and relieve stress. Apps like Headspace make it easy for people to learn the art of meditation, and even has a buddy system that lets you and a friend encourage each other in your journey.
MakeMe is an app for encouraging group activities. The app allows users to share moments of achievement and encouragement from one another to increase our collective ability to succeed. This is a surefire way to promote wellness at work.
Earn money for charities every time you run, walk, or bike by using the free Charity Miles app. Corporate sponsors agree to donate a few cents for every mile you complete. Browse the app’s list of charities, find the one that you support, and then hit the road. You can even do team competitions at the office to help promote wellness and raise money for a great cause.
Remember to set aside time each month to celebrate your company culture wins. Company review sites such as Glassdoor help tell the story of your company, which offers a powerful source of connection among employees. Another way to boost morale is to encorage employees to show pictures of their children or pets during virtual meetings or send pictures through a company social platform.
Whether you share tech-friendly resources with your colleagues on your intranet, or you send regular emails including tips for staying healthy in mind and body, encouraging wellness in the workplace is critical. The payoff? A better company culture and more productive and engaged employees. It’s a win-win for both employees and employers.