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Managing Stress at Work

 Managing Stress at Work

 

Stress at the workplace has become such a pervading feature of modern day work environment, that some experts have dubbed it as the “21st century equivalent of Black Death”. It is a big productivity killer and not something which can be done away with, with the wave of a magic wand. Managing stress is an active process in which the employees and employers need to work hand-in-hand. Companies are adopting creative strategies to address this issue, and make the workplace more efficient and productive. As the triggers for stress and an individual's capacity to endure it vary widely, so should be the strategies that are adopted to reduce stress.

 

Help at hand

Lack of work-life balance is one of the biggest causes of stress. Studies suggest a significant majority of corporate employees in India sleep less than six hours a day, due to demanding schedules and high stress levels. To address this concern to a certain extent, companies are undertaking various initiatives such as flexible working hours, workfrom-home option, concierge services for payment of utility bills, library services, etc. Some firms even offer consultation with nutritionists to aid the employees to lead a healthy lifestyle.

 

Elements of fun

Employers are bringing in elements of fun to help employees cope with stress. Recreation clubs such as dance, music or creative arts at the workplace, for instance, enable employees to relax and pursue their passions. Fun and humour being some of the best antidotes to stress, celebrating official achievements and personal occasions also lighten up the work environment. Companies are promoting sports activities to maintain the health quotient of their people. In fact, some employers are going a step further and also allowing employees to take a sabbatical to provide them with an opportunity to pursue their creative interests.

 

Remember to Breathe In!

Spire, a stress-sensing fitness tracker, is a wearable device with the aim to calm the wearer by reminding breathing rhythm. When it detects that a certain respiratory rate is reached or the person has gone half an hour without a deep breath, it sends an alarm/pings, reminding the person to take a break or take time to breathe properly.

 

Spotting the talent

Lack of appreciation is one of the greatest stressors, and productivity of an employee who feels appreciated and cared for at work is much more than others. Realising this, companies are offering employee recognition awards which could be verbal praise or cash prizes, and awards, such as Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year, Star Performer, among others. At times, recognition by colleagues/peers is a greater motivator than monetary rewards. Thus, encouraging practices such as peer-to-peer recognition programs will be a move in the right direction towards improving productivity, engagement and camaraderie.

 

Happier teams, happier workplaces

Creating a unified workplace can go a long way in not just minimizing differences, but even in building stronger and happier teams. Team building activities motivate employees and improve communication, thus increasing team cohesion, which will eventually lead to greater productivity. Engaging in outdoor activities such as treks and expeditions, modeling games, etc, which require the employees to work as a team is also recognised as effective methods of easing stress. Another innovative method of reducing stress would be to employ mentors for encouraging open communication in an attempt to improve interactions and camaraderie at work. These measures could well be important building blocks towards an organisation's vision of creating stress-free work environments.

 

Publsihed with permission from Engage Sodexo Newsletter, Issue 2.