How to Create Stress Management Programs in the Workplace - two women talking behind laptop

How to Create Stress Management Programs in the Workplace

Amelia Wilcox
February 7, 2023
October 9, 2022

When employees are stressed, they may be less focused, creative, productive, and collaborative. So, how can management reduce workplace stress and support staff?

The key is to create a stress management program for employees that addresses their core needs. We walk you through the steps in this article.

Why Stress Management Programs Are Important

A majority of your team is likely experiencing stress. The American Institute of Stress reports that 40 percent of employees find their job very or extremely stressful. Without help and management, stress can cause burnout, lead to unhealthy habits, and harm the mental and physical health of employees.

Valuing your employees' health and happiness benefits your team, and it’s good for the overall success of the company. According to HealthAdvocate, the cost of stressed employees to businesses is estimated between $200 and $300 billion a year. Stress management programs in the workplace can lower the financial impact on your business by increasing productivity, engagement, morale, culture, and much more.

Health Problems Related to Stress

Stress management programs in the workplace can greatly reduce health problems like:

  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic pain
  • Weakened immune system
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Nausea

All of these challenges make it harder to focus on work, maintain work-life balance, and enjoy leisure time.

How to Create a Team Stress Management Program

Get your stress management program in the workplace off the ground by following these seven steps:

  1. Collect data to inform your choices
  3. Educate your employees
  5. Encourage movement
  7. Get creative
  9. Offer meditation classes
  11. Address stress holistically and comprehensively
  13. Encourage engagement

        8. Require workday breaks

Your corporate stress management program can be a part of your mental health program or employee wellness program. It can also be a stand-alone initiative.

1. Collect data to inform your choices

As you begin setting up your company’s stress management program for employees, it’s important to know what your staff needs. Gathering data on your team's current state of wellbeing is a great way to learn more about where they need support. Open up an honest discussion with your employees with a survey that assesses staff wellness and stress levels. Here are some question ideas:

  • How stressed have you felt in the past two weeks on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • How often does work stress carry over into your personal life?
  • Does stress make it harder for you to focus on your work?

2. Educate your employees

If you already have a mental health program, see if they will bring in a licensed counselor that can conduct a lunch-and-learn to help your staff gain knowledge about stress management. Set up support groups or facilitate discussions on specific stress-related topics and open up the conversation around stress in the workplace.

3. Encourage movement

Getting your body moving is an amazing way to relieve stress. Notably, research shows that taking exercise breaks at work, such as a group virtual yoga class or taking a walk during your lunch hour, increases employee productivity and stress relief.  

4. Get creative

Reducing stress can be approached in many different ways. Think outside the box and devise creative ways to treat your staff, release tension, and finish their work day relieved and stress-free. Some innovative ways to address stress we’ve seen at the awesome companies we serve? Office art classes, workplace haircuts, grocery deliveries straight to the office, team cooking classes, or a stipend to allow employees to make their workspaces more calming. The opportunities are endless, and your staff will appreciate the effort.

5. Offer meditation classes

Workplace meditation classes are an awesome addition to any employee stress management program. Research shows that meditation is an effective way to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. These sessions can relieve employee stress, shift negative thinking to positivity and teach them healthy coping techniques. Additionally, it can help promote productivity, office morale, and resiliency.  

6. Address stress holistically

Stress Management Program for Employees - two women sitting behind laptop at work

The best stress management programs in the workplace take on a holistic approach. Providing many different ways for staff to deal with stress is helpful. Education, movement, and creativity might be the perfect solution for many. For others, they might need a life coach to talk to or want to bring a meditation practice into their life. Choosing a service provider that can offer a range of customized classes as part of your employee stress management program means you’ll address every employee's needs.

7. Encourage engagement

Once your amazing program is in place, make sure your staff is actually using it. Wellness incentives are effective! Therefore, consider offering awards for employee participation. Encourage staff to get involved by offering a prize for those who take classes. Create a game to see who meditates the most minutes a month or walks the furthest.

8. Require workday breaks

This one is a bit of a summary of everything else we have covered. Taking breaks at work is one of the best ways to reduce stress in the workplace in the long-run.

Along with holding initiatives like workday exercise, group meditation, and more, actually tell employees that they are encouraged (even required) to take breaks throughout the day. This can look like taking a full hour for your lunch break, or taking mini 5 minute breaks every hour.

Breaking up the day like this can help employees stay focused and positive throughout the day.

Now that you've got some solid ideas for a stress management program in the workplace, build a plan to communicate your program and its benefits to your employees. Using your intranet, newsletters, direct emails, and meeting announcements can help get the word out. As you roll out your employee stress management solution, continue to survey your staff and observe their stress levels dropping dramatically.

For more tips on creating mental health initiatives at your company, check out this article.

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Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement. Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.