How often do you feel a bit of stress or anxiety during the work day?  Chances are pretty good that it’s more than once in a while.

In the decade or so since the recession, most companies have been trying to get by on the “do more with less” strategy, looking to squeeze more productivity from leaner staffs.  Surveys by TINYpulse cite that nearly 70% of employees feel they have too much work on their plates these days.

A common side effect of this has been increased stress, anxiety and related issues that are taking a toll on stretched workforces. Business.com says that 30% of American workers claim to have high levels of workplace stress.

BenefitsPro reports that stress alone costs US businesses $500 billion in lost productivity.  In fact, the World Health Organization has called stress the “health epidemic of the 21t century.”

Numerous factors contribute to toxic workplaces and most organizations are continually seeking new solutions that can ease the tension and help employees do their best work.

And it’s not just overwork that is to blame.  Many company cultures are unhealthy and interpersonal colleague relationships are often strained leading to team breakdowns and errors.

 Some people can actually work through their stress with little to no outward indication of how they’re feeling, while it is tearing them up on inside.  Since stress is often a hidden productivity killer, companies would be wise to take action against it, even as a purely preventative measure.

While we’re seeing increased interest in ideas like mindfulness sessions and resilience workshops which can help relieve tension and provide teaching mechanisms for individuals to learn how to cope, these are really just short-term, superficial solutions.

A long-term corporate strategy that gets to the root of these issues is necessary.   Executive management and human resources teams need to go beyond the temporary fixes and take decisive steps to build a sustainable culture of well-being.

Appropriate and effective employee onboarding and training can help familiarize workers on company policies, procedures, and practices from day one.  Active listening to employees through forums, “management by walking around” and pulse surveys are just some of the many ongoing measures that be taken to uncover issues and problems, so they can be addressed before they exacerbate.

Every employee should have an awareness and understanding of the resources available to them to deal with stress and have ready access to those resources 24/7.  Today’s digital technology platforms enable this and there’s really no excuse for companies serious about productivity and performance to pass them up.

Frequent and consistent efforts to improve and maintain the well-being and employee experience of your workforce are key. By building a culture to help employees reduce stress, your organization will become a more appealing place to work, increasing the quality of the employees. Investing in these solutions now will pay dividends in the future by reducing stress and increasing productivity.

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