Strategic efforts are sometimes needed to combat workplace stress. However, in some situations simple measures can make a big difference. Here are six quick, easy and inexpensive ways to lower stress levels in an office and improve morale.
Tea and coffee are necessary in most office kitchens. Many employees need a caffeine boost throughout the day. However, too much indulgence in these stimulants can have the opposite effect. Side effects such as insomnia, anxiety and high blood pressure can lead to increased stress levels within working environments.
Offer a range of drink options including herbal and fruit teas, and encourage employees to consider swapping one of their cups of tea or coffee for a decaffeinated option. Camomile, peppermint and lemon balm teas have relaxing properties, and fruit teas can be refreshing alternatives to caffeine.
Keeping well hydrated can also avert the need for caffeine, so also encourage employees to drink plenty of water by providing water jugs and bottles for employees to use at their desks. An infuser water bottle can make a great welcome gift for new employees.
Office plants can have a range of benefits, from purifying the air to acting as natural sound absorbers. Importantly, they can reduce stress levels and have a calming effect at work. Bare cubicles or open plan offices with no connection to nature can make employees feel stifled and stressed. Links to nature can have a calming influence and make an office a more aesthetically pleasing environment.
In low light, spacious areas, peace lilies can be attractive yet low maintenance. Snake plants and palms can also help provide natural, leafy divisions to increase privacy and noise absorbance. Cacti and aloe vera make ideal desk plants, which employees can enjoy looking after without needing to tend to often. Even artificial flowers or wall art containing scenes of nature can help de-stress employees.
When stress levels are high, tempers and passions can flare. With the best intentions, some can succumb to harsh words, raised voices, impatience or stubbornness when under pressure. If stress levels are running high, consider taking meetings outside the office. Regularly having meetings in the same meeting rooms can lead to a cycle of behaviour that becomes ingrained.
A working lunch, a coffee break meeting, an outdoor ideas session or hiring a meeting room can break the stress cycle. New environments can help change meeting styles, formats and attitudes, bringing a fresh approach.
Charity fundraising can improve morale and help employees to de-stress by bringing people together to do something beneficial for their community or a good cause. Holding a charity bake sale, craft sale, contest or sponsored activity can allow employees to communicate, have fun and enjoy supporting a charity. Find something that the majority of employees can participate in, and encourage managers to support it so that their teams can benefit fully from the event.
Company desk tidies
Clutter and mess cause stress. Arrange a company desk tidy to help employees reorganise their desks and clean up the look of the office. A tidy, organised office helps employees to feel more in control of their work and work areas. Sorted and neatly filed paperwork can also help them feel more organised and able to access the materials they need.
Make sure that cleaning equipment, files, folders and shredders are available to help with the desk tidies. Celebrate in some form afterward, for instance by rewarding employees with a box of chocolates to share or going for a drink after work.
Never underestimate the power of a smile. The person smiling will receive an endorphin boost, and the recipient will naturally want to reciprocate the smile and feel a greater sense of bonding with colleagues. Newer employees will always appreciate having a senior employee offer a warm smile and a hello. It will make them feel noticed and appreciated.
Senior employees can sometimes feel taken for granted or have to bear the brunt of the stress. Therefore, it’s important to make them feel appreciated too and not overlooked for their loyalty.
A smile is simple, costs nothing, is easy to do and can be infectious in an office. Try to be the one to lift the mood in the office when times get stressful, and smile when you greet or meet a colleague to spread some warmth and encouragement.
Work stress is often due to a variety of factors that employers will need to consider strategically, perhaps with a view to setting long-term goals. However, some simple and short-term actions can help reduce aspects of stress in the workplace.
Don’t neglect the need to address underlying problems that can contribute to stress at work. Find ways to add some simple team building, morale boosting and calming elements to the workplace that can help employees to feel less stressed and appreciated at work.