None of us are immune to stress but the latest labour force statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in 2014/15, workplace stress actually “accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases” amounting to a staggering loss of 9.9 million working days.
As an employer, you won’t always be in a position to reduce stressful workloads or roles, but you can create an environment that improves feelings of well-being for your employees.
In preparation for National Stress Awareness Day on November 4th, we wanted to share some easy insider tips for creating a stress-free workplace:
In order to function well our bodies need regulated serotonin levels and natural light is a lead stimulant of them. Responsible for healthy sleep patterns, learning, information recall, mental alertness and a general good mood, it helps us to prevent the onset of depression, anxiety and stress.
Flood your workspace with as much natural light as possible by replacing any solid walls or partitions with glass or better yet, remove them to create an open-plan office interior.
If it’s not possible to increase the amount of natural light in your workplace, try substituting it with artificial daylight or full spectrum lightbulbs.
You’ll find that regardless of the lighting, conscientious employees will often be found lunching at their desks so encourage them to take breaks and step outside for an unfiltered dose of daylight.
Plants brighten up an office but their benefits go much further. Studies show that they help improve office air quality and limit noise pollution and can actually reduce tension, depression, anxiety and fatigue by 37- 58%.
Place large, easy-care plants like Areca and Kentia Palms or Dragon Trees around the office. They add colour and interest and can be used functionally to divide work areas. Also, encourage employees to choose and care for a small plant such as a cactus or aloe in their own personal workspace.
More and more companies are creating specific work zones within the workplace so that their personnel can find a quiet spot to focus on a specific task or a purposeful space to collaborate in, but to keep a lid on stress, it’s beneficial to complement any work areas with non-work areas.
Each person in your organisation will need and benefit from taking a break so designate a calm, relaxing space for them to retreat to so they can escape a heavy workload or busy environment, refresh their minds and destress.
Regular exercise is one of the best remedies for stress so help your employees to stay healthy.
Some companies such as Knightsbridge-based, Sonangol, incorporate gym equipment and showers into the workplace so employees can workout or simply freshen up. If you don’t have the space, encourage personnel to be more active by installing standing meeting tables or sit-stand desks. In addition, centralise refreshment, printing and recycling points to encourage people to leave their desks and walk around. Not only is it exercise, but it’s also opportunities for social interaction which can also help relieve feelings of isolation and stress.
Studies in to the psychology of colour show how colour can impact the way we feel about spending time in a particular interior.
Bright colours such as red, orange and yellow can boost creativity but too much of them can actually contribute to feelings of stress. Try using a soothing colour palette of neutral creams, greys or muted pastel tones and reserve brighter colours for your office accessories and company branding.
By Chris Jenkins, Project Director, Peldon Rose