Home » Features

How to Reduce Stress in the Workplace

Everyone has the odd bad day up at work. When deadlines are tight, tempers can fray, especially when a number of people are working on the same project. A certain amount of pressure is healthy and useful, because it pushes us to succeed, to work efficiently with our co-workers in order to deliver the best possible result. But if there’s a lot of pressure and the workflow hasn’t been well managed, or there are uncontrollable issues which get in the way and disrupt the process then employees need a way to de-stress.

Workplace stress costs the UK more than ten million working days a year. And if stress isn’t dealt with quickly, it can lead to employees having to take a significant amount of time off work – the average amount of time taken of work for people diagnosed with workplace stress in 2010/11 was around 27 days in total. So, what are some simple – and fun – ways of relieving stress in the office?

Exercise releases endorphins which can help people to deal with stress and low moods. Some employers provide gyms for their employees. While this might not be possible for all employers, they can still try to encourage their employees about exercise. A lunchtime running club within the workplace will help people to get healthy as well as build a sense of team identity.

It doesn’t have to stop at running – employers might be able to get their employees reduced rates at local gyms or leisure centres for lessons in more other types of sport. Martial arts, for example, are great for physical and mental health, and will help people to channel their frustrations. Most major cities have at least one dojo or other training school, and employers might be surprised at how enthusiastic their employees are about the chance to learn some action-movie style moves.

Nature is soothing, and in an office it can be difficult to remember that there’s a world somewhere which isn’t carpeted and crammed full of desks and ringing telephones. Employers should encourage employees to take a walk around the nearest park at lunchtime, if it’s possible – it combines exercise, the first point on this list, with perspective, the next point. If there isn’t a park nearby, consider bringing potted plants into the office and making it a group responsibility to water and care for them.

Perspective when people are really stressed, there comes a point where it’s more important for them to regain a healthy perspective than it is for them to complete the work they’re stressing over. Missing a deadline isn’t the end of the world, and neither is making a mistake; acting honestly and dealing openly with problems is much better than scrabbling to cover up mistakes you’ve made or continuing to pretend that you’re going to be able to deliver the undeliverable. Take a break, walk away from the work, and get some perspective on the situation.

Office pets, although a wacky idea, can really bring people together. This can be useful in dynamic offices where teamwork is at a premium, as it can give people a project to co-operate upon which doesn’t carry with it any pressures, and in fact gives them some enjoyment. There may be business insurance issues caused by bringing an animal into an office so it is worth checking these details out first. A study by Virgina Commonwealth University showed that taking a dog into an office has a positive impact on the levels of communication between employees. While a dog might be out of the question, there are other, smaller pets which might have the same effect.

If you want any information on the above, or to enquire about a quote for business cover then contact Co-operative Business Insurance.