Whether you are serving up a hot cup of coffee during rush hour or waiting to present your next big idea, the workplace can be a stress-inducing, anxiety-enhancing environment. But you need not do it alone.
A recent study found 73% of Australian attribute their stress to work. A recent survey of over 5000 workers found that 25% of workers took time off each year for stress-related reason.
These aren’t small numbers. At EPIC Assist (EPIC), we understand how stress and unsupportive environments can affect our wellbeing and productivity.
In response to this growing concern, EPIC would like to share with you a couple of tips to make your workplace a more stress-free environment and highlight some support services that are available.
1. Encourage workplace wellness
You may have heard this pearl of wisdom before, but exercise and healthy living are the best things you can do to reduce your stress levels. There is a direct correlation between exercise and mental health. Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It pumps blood to the brain, which can help you to think more clearly. Whilst at work, here are a few tips to get that blood pumping.
- Go on a walk during lunch breaks.
- Try meditating and ground exercises.
- Ask your employer to offer healthy snacks in the office.
- Hold a steps contest among teams for those who own fitness trackers.
- Bring a yoga instructor into the office once a month.
- Ask if your employer will subsidise your gym memberships.
2. Get comfy and ergonomic
Physical discomfort can vary as a stressor. You might not notice you’re stressed if you’re sitting in an uncomfortable chair for just a few minutes. But, if you practically live in that plastic backbreaking excuse of a chair that offers no support, you might have a sore back and be more reactive to stress because of it. Implementing ergonomic solutions can make employees more comfortable and increase productivity.
- Adjust your computer workstation to fit your body. Chat with your employer about accessing free workplace modifications to support your optimal workstation and increase productivity.
- Adjust your chair before starting your shift and again after lunch. Your body changes throughout the day and so should your environment.
- Arrange your workstation so items you frequently use are within close reach.
- Place a pillow behind your back to create lumbar support if the back of your work chair won’t adjust.
- Place a document holder right next to the monitor so only your eyes move and not your head when switching between the two.
3. Keep perfectionism in check
Wanting to do well at any task you are undertaking is not a bad thing, but it is important to be mindful of the undue pressure and stress you can place upon yourself.
You should not expect to do everything perfectly every time – especially when you are busy, time-poor, or overworked. Instead of striving for perfection, just do the best with what you’ve got. Remember to celebrate all the efforts you make, big and small. Learning to take this pressure off will undoubtedly lead to a less stressful work environment.
4. Change the environment up
A lot of stress comes from the environment.
Think about every aspect of your office space and what it does (or doesn’t do) for the wellness of your team. Simple things like the quality of the coffee or bringing in plants to brighten up your space. Indoor plants improve the overall air quality, reduce stress levels and releasing oxygen into the air.
A recent study that the presence of plants in the workforce improves productivity and staff wellbeing, and reduces the amount of sick leave. If plants aren’t your thing, perhaps some photos and mementos to make your personal office space feel more comfortable and welcoming.
5. Allow for flexible hours and remote working
This one is for the managers. The office should not feel like a cell but rather a place that facilitates getting meaningful work done. Ask your employer about working remotely and flexibility for start and end times. This freedom is great for office morale, and the policy shows employees that you trust them enough not to supervise them all the time.
6. Encourage social activities
We spend a large portion of our time with our work colleagues. It’s fair to say that the more you get to know someone the less stress you will feel around them.
As co-workers get to know each other, expectations and communication barriers are broken down, making future interaction easier. Team building exercises or team lunches are a great way to facilitate a deeper connection between co-workers.
7. Stay organized
If you are a naturally disorganised person, planning out your day can make a world of difference to your stress levels. Having your work clothes ironed the night before, or meal prepping for the week ahead are ways you can reduce your morning rush as you frantically make it out the front door.
In the office, using lists and reminders on your desk or computer are good ways to keep yourself on schedule throughout the day. Keeping your workspace organized can help avoid the negative effects of clutter and feeling frazzled and disorganized.
8. Connect with a DES provider
If you are struggling to manage by yourself in the workplace, you may be eligible for Work Assist through a Disability Employment Services (DES) provider like EPIC Assist.
Work Assist provides support to eligible employees who have difficulty fulfilling the essential requirements of their role due to an injury, disability, or health condition. EPIC can work with you (the Work Assist participant) and your employer to provide assistance to maximise support and keep you working.
In most cases, the participant’s employer (colleagues and management) will be included in the process. However, in some cases where the participant has chosen not to share information about their injury, disability, or health condition with their employer, the participant can still request and receive assistance from Work Assist.
Get in touch with EPIC Assist today
If you are looking for extra support staying employed or finding work with a supportive employer contact EPIC today. EPIC has service centres in Queensland, Northern New South Wales, and Tasmania and is committed to helping you find and keep a job you love.