7 Effective Ways to Help Employees Deal with Stress

Helping Employees Deal with Stress

Stress doesn’t just negatively impact the health of your employees; it also impacts performance and ultimately your organization’s bottom line. Here are 7 effective ways to help employees deal with stress and thrive at work.

If your organization wants to decrease turnover and increase productivity, reducing stress in the workplace is a must. According to a University of Massachusetts (UMass) report, 40% of employee turnover is due to stress. Employee stress has been shown to lead to reduced productivity, absenteeism, counterproductive work behaviors, fatigue, and negative health consequences for an employee. Helping your employees combat and lower stress can positively impact retention, increase engagement, and create a healthier workforce. Regardless of your budget, there are practices your organization can put into place to reduce stress and help employees better perform; here are 7.

Encourage Physical Health

A healthy lifestyle has been shown to not just reduce stress, but also improve job performance. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who engage in moderate exercise have a higher quality work output and overall better job performance than those with sedentary lifestyles.

Physical exercise works to reduce stress by producing endorphins and improving sleep behavior. Your organization can promote physical health and wellbeing by subsidizing gym memberships, recommending and offering access to fitness and nutrition apps, creating fun organization-wide health challenges, encouraging lunchtime walks, and helping employees find time in their day to focus on exercise and self-improvement.

Normalize Mental Health

For years, mental health has been considered a taboo topic in many workplaces, even though it has been shown to impact performance. According to a Mental Health America report, 9 out of 10 employees report that their workplace stress affects their mental health. The same report also found that 4 out of 5 employees feel emotionally drained from their work, an early sign of burnout.

It is key for organizations, just like yours, to have open conversations around mental health and help employees who are dealing with feelings of stress and depression. Normalizing mental health has become especially important, post-COVID-19, as many roles have become remote positions. If your organization has shifted to a remote workforce, it is crucial to remember that the leading threat to mental health is feelings of isolation.

There are many ways your organization can encourage and promote positive mental health to employees. Here are a few practices to consider:

  • Speak candidly about mental health and provide employees with an avenue to communicate feelings and concerns
  • Encourage all employees to take mental health days
  • Create strategies to help employees achieve work-life balance
  • Prioritize confidentiality
  • Reward and recognize employees for achievements
  • Implement a mindful meditation program (more details below)

Provide Employees with Benefits Focused on the Reduction of Stress

Providing employees with a competitive salary and comprehensive benefits package is a great way to reduce stress. According to research performed by the University of Michigan, organizations that offer complimentary alternative benefits enjoy a significant reduction in employee turnover compared to the industry average. A few of the top complementary alternative benefits offered by organizations making Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” list include flexible work hours, employer-paid health care premiums, subsidized health care classes and club memberships, paid leave time, benefits for new parents, and access to after-hours social activities.

Even if your organization is small and doesn’t have a huge benefits budget, you can still think outside the box and invest in benefits that impact productivity through improving lives, such as offering subscriptions to mental health and stress-reducing apps.

Practice Mindfulness

One strategy that has shown great results in reducing employee stress is mindfulness. The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness as a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Implementing a mindful meditation program can help your organization reduce stress, strengthen emotional intelligence, promote creativity, combat absenteeism, and increase performance. In fact, according to Project Meditation, mindful meditation can increase employees’ productivity by 120%.

For mindfulness to work within your organization, it is key to create a dedicated quiet space, provide employees with regular breaks, and offer training and resources on how to meditate effectively.

Train Managers on How to Provide Clearly Defined Goals

One of the best ways your organization can reduce stress for employees is by training managers to provide clearly defined goals. Goals help to reduce stress because they provide employees with purpose, clarity, and objectives. Effective goal setting creates a structure for employees and allows them to visualize success. According to The American Institute of Stress, 46% of stress within an organization comes from the workload. Training managers on how to help employees set goals can help mitigate stress.

Reward and Recognize Employees

Rewarding and recognizing employees for their achievements is another strategic way to reduce stress. Rewards and recognition increase engagement, and engagement has been shown to reduce stress and strengthen the mental and emotional connection that employees feel towards their workplace. Deploying a rewards and recognition process can also impact your organization’s retention rates. In fact, according to Survey Monkey, 63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job.

Rewards and recognition can be as simple as a written thank you note, additional time off, small gifts, or an announcement on your organization’s blog/newsletter. Small gestures of appreciation go a long way.

Review and Optimize Employee Handbook

Your organization’s handbook should be a roadmap for employees providing policies, procedures, guidelines, communication channels, and benefits. If your employee handbook is out of date, incomplete, or isn’t clear and concise, it can cause stress and confusion. To be the most effective, employee handbooks should be reviewed and updated on an annual basis. Taskly, a leading HR expertise provider, can help you review your employee handbook and look for ways to optimize it.


Unnecessary stress has an impact on both the health of your employees and your organization’s bottom line. There are several small, easy, and inexpensive changes you can make to reduce stress for your employees today that can have a lasting impact on their lives and your company’s culture.

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