What is workplace stress?

Workplace stress refers to the physical, mental, or emotional reactions of employees when coping with demanding circumstances beyond their capabilities.

Work-related circumstances that often trigger high-stress levels in employees:

What can HR do to successfully manage stress in the workplace?

There will always be stress in the workplace; meeting deadlines, juggling projects, and dealing with conflicts are all a part of work. HR leaders, however, can mitigate workplace stress for employees by implementing these ideas:

  • Set the tone in the workplace. HR professionals can lead by example, modeling a methodical approach to work which includes preparation, organization, proper lunch breaks, and a work-life balance. 
  • Be aware of stress signs. Workplace stress can manifest in a variety of behavioral, physiological, and psychological symptoms. HR leaders can keep an eye out for these signs in employees.
  • Create a pleasant work environment. An organized, clutter-free space allows for a calm work environment. Indoor plants, a pleasant color scheme, and inspirational posters and can foster positive energy and increased productivity. If your company can spare an entire room for relaxation and meditation– that’s fantastic.
  • Offer stress management workshops. Frequent meetings and deadlines, and endless tasks and screen-time can cause employees to feel overwhelmed by stress. HR leaders can provide on-going stress-busting workshops that address the root causes of stress in the workplace. Teaching time-management, healthy habits, emotion management, and communication skills can equip employees with practical stress-management tools.
  • Provide managers with communication training. HR leaders can train managers to clearly convey expectations, so employees understand what they need to get done, when, and how. It’s also essential to guide managers to speak and interact with employees calmly and empathetically.
  •  Promote work-life balance. Everyone has family responsibilities or personal priorities outside of work. HR leaders can offer flexible work-from-home hours to allow for a healthy work-life balance.
  • Cultivate mindfulness. Integrate a simple workplace meditation program. Five minutes of daily meditation, positive visualization, and breathing exercises can raise self-awareness and lower stress levels.
  • Openly embrace self-care. HR leaders can establish a work environment that supports each individual’s health needs. Employees can overcome stress more effectively when they support each other, can discuss their stress openly, and know they aren’t alone.
  • Incorporate exercise into the workday. HR leaders and managers can collaborate to incorporate exercise into the workday, with 15-minute stretching sessions or walking breaks in fresh air throughout the day. Companies can also subsidize gym memberships or yoga studio passes for employees.

How can successful management of workplace stress improve company culture?

Effective management of workplace stress can strengthen and transform a company culture into a healthier and more enjoyable work environment. Employees who learn to successfully handle stress and support each other along the way can build resilience and camaraderie– signs of a robust and thriving company culture.