Five ways to combat workplace stress

Man with steam coming out of ear

With workplace stress on the rise and its health and productivity implications extending further than ever, it’s essential both employees and employers implement stress-busting strategies.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, workplace stress accounts for 30 percent of total stress reported in Australia. The effects of this stress on employees’ physical and mental health have been widely reported, however, workplace productivity can also suffer, according to workplace performance consultant Tony Wilson.

“People under high levels of stress simply don’t think as well as those that are not. They tend to operate on ‘autopilot’, and their behaviour is more reactive and responsive, rather than proactive and creative,” he said.

“Because of that, we’re seeing a huge decrease in productivity, as well as an increase in sick days.”

As Wilson explained, many employees are trying to combat workplace stress, but in ways that are often counterproductive.

“People often try to escape the stress cycle by drinking alcohol or overeating. They tend to crave high-calorie food, to replace a lot of the lost energy that goes with the stress response; but we need to actually do the opposite of those things.”

Wilson offers employees five key tips for overcoming stress:

1. Get active

People tend to avoid exercise when they’re stressed, because they’re ‘too busy’. However, exercise offers a healthy outlet that has been proven to neutralise the stress chemicals.

2. Stay social

Find a hobby outside of work, and get others involved. Surrounding yourself with friends and family can offer a much-needed social outlet for stressed-out employees.

Wilson also offers employers three expert tips, to ensure minimal stress and maximum productivity in the workplace.

1. Control is the key

If you’re managing people in a high stress situation, you really have to give employees a feeling of control over their work. Stress that we feel we can control doesn’t have as much of an impact on us, and a little bit of autonomy can go a long way.

2. Keep it consistent

One of the things that adds to stress is when things are unpredictable and uncertain. Try to focus on consistencies within the workplace. If employees’ jobs are secure, make sure they understand that.

3. Celebrate successes

Help people feel a sense of achievement and a sense value, in what they do. Those things not only make us feel good, but also help to combat that stress response.