Many employers invest in stress management plans but fail to get good results. Find out the reasons why.
Employers play a critical role in helping their employees adopt healthier behaviors at home and in the workplace, and workplace culture often sets the tone. Because it’s an issue that affects everyone from time to time, most of today’s health and wellness programs include support for stress management.
Business leaders want to help employees balance mental health and maintain productivity at work. Unfortunately, despite this focus on stress management, many employees still struggle to handle workplace stress. According to a Gallup survey, it affects as many as 55% of workers in the US.
Another survey found that employees report stress in their personal lives, with 50% suffering from lack of sleep due to stress. In the long run, this can lead to poor employee morale and engagement in the workplace.
This highlights the importance of discussing why stress management plans fail and how companies can implement more successful measures.
The Challenge of Planning Against Stress
One of the most important concepts to understand about stress management is that stress is a normal human emotion, but harmful levels don't develop overnight. When pressures and feelings of anxiety begin to mount and last over a period of time, the emotional and physiological responses to that stress can be harmful. Unfortunately, many people believe that dealing with stress just means doing things that allow them to forget or ignore its causes.
Why Stress Management Plans Fail
Dealing with stress is tricky. Most stress management plans fail for the following reasons:
1. No Proper Definition of Workplace Stress
By definition, work-related stress is an individual’s reaction to pressure and demands at work. For many, workplace stress occurs when their tasks pile up and they start to fall behind. Stress can also be due to frustration caused by repeated failures, or by difficult interactions with other people. However, stress can also be the reason these things happen, resulting in a cycle that can be very hard to break. Stress management plans fail when they do not identify and address what stress is and how it affects the aspects of life, including motivation, communication, and productivity.
2. Thinking Every Person’s Stress Level is the Same
Sometimes people enjoy the challenge of a hefty workload and see it as an opportunity to showcase their abilities. However, at other times, it can feel like tasks are overwhelming their capacity. Not everyone’s perception or approach will be the same, and this is true for stress as well. Stress management plans fail when they believe what applies to one person applies to all. That’s why it’s critical to have a personalized stress management solution that can be adapted to different personalities and approaches.
3. Addressing the Wrong Problem
Most stress management plans don’t work simply because they are addressing the wrong problem. Stress is not the same thing as fatigue. Taking a break or a vacation might be helpful in the short term, but these measures don’t solve the underlying problem—they don’t teach employees how to handle stress.
Stress management should consist of tools that employees can use every single day to tackle issues, no matter how small or big they may be. The key is to maintain these tools, keeping them sharp and ready for use at any time.
Tips for Implementing Successful Stress Management Programs
Here are some valuable tips to implement a stress management program that works:
1. Use Action-Oriented Approaches
Action-oriented approaches mean taking charge and changing stressful situations. This can be done by establishing proper communication channels. Employees must have an opportunity to reach out to their managers and speak their thoughts without being judged or penalized.
Another helpful strategy is to encourage people to incorporate short periods of silence—a short mental break—several times during each day at work. Dedicating time for mindfulness in the workplace each day can help employees rewire their brains. This break can help restore the brain itself to its optimal state.
2. Support Emotional Awareness and Positivity
Developing emotional intelligence can help employees change their perception of a stressful situation, allowing them to understand and react more effectively. Placing positive affirmations and imagery throughout your office space can help encourage positive emotions. These little reminders can help them shift their negative thoughts into positive ones. Encouraging journaling to employees can also help them channel their emotions and reframe their thought processes, allowing them to deal with stress better.
A stress management challenge is a viable option for gamifying employees' self-awareness of their stress levels. These challenges encourage employees to recall their daily stressful actions while offering points and/or incentives for taking actions towards building a healthier mindset.
3. Incorporate Acceptance-Oriented Methods
Stress is inevitable. It’s part of a person’s natural response to the world. Since stressful situations are often beyond one’s control, learning acceptance methods can help employees deal with difficult experiences. Stress management plans must include strategies to deal with setbacks, including meditation and physical relaxation. Using techniques such as guided visualizations, deep breathing, guided body scans, and yoga can help relax the body and mind.
Over time, these strategies can help employees build their resiliency and help them learn to accept healthy levels of stress—and know when and how to handle times of higher or less healthy stress. Employers will continue to promote stress management plans as part of their health and wellness programs. The key to success lies in identifying the problem and addressing the root cause. When stress management is successful, productivity at work follows suit.
If you’re thinking about offering stress management programs or wellness challenges for your employees, connect with us.
About CoreHealth Technologies
CoreHealth Technologies Inc. is a total well-being technology company trusted by global providers to power their health and wellness programs. Our wellness portals help maximize health, engagement, and productivity for 3+ million employees worldwide. We believe people are the driving force of organizations and supporting them to make behavior changes to improve employee health is in everyone’s best interest. With the most flexibility, customizations, and integrations of any software in its class, CoreHealth’s all-in-one wellness platform helps grow great wellness companies. Simple to sophisticated, based on you. For more information, visit the CoreHealth website.
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