Stress can be caused by any number of factors – personal or professional – and according to the Mayo Clinic, prolonged stress can even lead to major health concerns. April was Stress Awareness Month and May is Mental Health Awareness Month – stress and mental health are often linked, as one can significantly affect the other.
Acknowledging and addressing stress and mental health in the workplace is critical, and RALIANCE has three tips for how employers can help employees manage stress, which can help reduce strains on mental health.
-Offer flexibility: Strained time and resources can lead to significant employee stress. Options such as telecommuting and flexible hours enable employees to manage their schedules at a pace that works for them and to balance their home and work priorities. This can significantly reduce stress and help lead to better mental health for some employees.
-Encourage PTO: A recent study found that 45% of Americans don’t use all of their allotted paid time off (PTO). While many respondents didn’t feel like they needed to use it, almost half were afraid to use it all for fear of falling behind in their career. But experts say that time away helps people manage their work-life balance while ultimately reducing burnout and leading to greater productivity. It’s important for employers to cultivate a culture where people feel comfortable taking the time they need to rejuvenate.
-Educate team members on stress: Raising awareness – through internal newsletters, fireside chats, or town halls, for example – is a critical step in helping employees identify their own stressors and take steps to address them. When employees receive education stress and the resources available, they can seek support or take action before reaching a crisis point.
In taking these steps, employers can help create an accommodating environment that can help change the narrative around the workplace being stressful. The following resources are also helpful if you or someone you know is facing mental health challenges: National Institutes of Health Stress Fact Sheet, 7 Steps to Manage Stress and Build Resilience and Stress Less for a Healthier Heart.
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.