How to combat stress at work

Stress and associated issues are a huge problem for businesses and individuals, and many business leaders feel at a loss when trying to address it. 

While there’s no magic bullet to solve all kinds of workplace stress, modern technology has a wide range of tools and solutions that can be leveraged to improve mental health in the workplace.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how workplace stress can affect a business, and list 5 technologies that can lead to better stress management, and a happier, more cohesive, and more productive company culture.

How Stress Can Hurt your Business

Stress is one of the biggest challenges that companies, large and small, face in the modern business arena.

Aside from the human cost to individual employees, unmanaged stress can have a huge negative effect on how the larger organisation strategies and tackles projects, placing a cap on the business’s bottom line. Though workplace stress is often seen as a nebulous and vague issue, businesses must treat it the same way as any other threat to productivity, and tackle it with all the resources at their disposal.

How stress can hurt your business

Here are some of the ways stress can affect your business:

1. It Harms Productivity

The biggest way that unmanaged stress can hurt the larger business is by reducing productivity, often compounded by a pervasive sense that employees can’t speak up when they’re feeling too stressed to face work.

Presenteeism, where employees show up to work despite feeling too ill or stressed to perform, has been shown to cost the economies of nations untold billions in lost growth. Though it may be hard to quantify, a culture of presenteeism at your business could be having a similarly detrimental effect on its potential to expand and succeed.

When employees are made to perform at work under the burden of prolonged stress, it can quickly begin to harm productivity, impair judgement, and make it harder for employees to solve the problems they’ll need to tackle in a typical working week. When stress is widespread enough, this can easily hurt the overall productivity of the organisation at large.

2. It Causes Absenteeism

On the flip side, excessive workplace stress can also make absenteeism more frequent and pervasive. This limits the available resources of a company over a given period and causes a subtle, sometimes severe, decline in productivity. 

When employees are burdened with so much stress that it overrules the sense of responsibility they have for their job, it’s a common response to take unscheduled days off. They begin calling in sick or making excuses for sudden absences. 

Absenteeism will not only deplete the available manpower of a company over a given period, but it can also burden those who do show up to work. Depending on the tasks, they can be redistributed to those who are at work to make up for this loss in manpower. This, in turn, will compound the total stress at the workplace and exacerbate company-wide issues that can harm the organisation’s bottom line.

3. It Raises Turnover and Recruitment Costs

Unchecked stress and lower job satisfaction have long been associated with higher employee turnover, and with an increasingly educated global population, burnout is becoming a more acceptable reason to leave a company in search of a healthier and more manageable working environment.

Burnout can lead to a high turnover rate.

In the same vein, employee turnover exacerbated by stress means that business leaders have to spend more time patching up the holes in their organisational structure, increasing the cost of recruitment and compounding stress as workers are forced to drop their other responsibilities and manage recruitment drives.

4. It Grinds Down Employee Health

Historically, stress has been viewed as an exclusively mental and emotional issue that mental and emotional solutions can only remedy. However, society is increasingly recognising that stress can grind down a person’s physical well-being as well.

In severe cases, stress can manifest itself in physical symptoms such as frequent headaches, chest pains, poor immune system performance, and gastrointestinal issues. These kinds of illnesses in and of themselves can quickly compound the severity of stress, leading to a generally unhappy, unhealthy workforce.

With around 77% of people reporting stress that negatively affects their physical health, this aspect of stress is something that no business can afford to ignore unless it’s able to operate on a perpetually sickly workforce.

5 Technologies Changing How We Deal with the Mental Health Crisis at Work

5 technologies changing how we deal with the mental health crisis at work

Here are 5 technologies that are changing how organisations tackle the mental health crisis at work.

1. Project Management Software

Project management software can make all the difference in a business that’s being overwhelmed by pervasive stress, helping to mitigate or remove common sources of stress by making scheduling, collaboration, file sharing, and countless other processes that much easier.

Though project management software is great for de-stressing the more junior, “frontline” teams at your company, software suites can also make the stresses of work easier to control for the management at your company, with purpose-built features for quick and effective task delegation, and customisable views to check on the progress of projects and tasks.

A good project management platform can be a major boon to an organisation’s productivity even if they’re not struggling with stress at all, so equipping your business with this kind of tech is a no-brainer!

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2. Prospecting Software

In the same vein, a good prospecting platform can also work wonders for the stress levels in your sales team by simplifying complex tasks and generally making it easier for them to do their jobs. Sales positions have always been associated with higher stress levels due to the pressures of ever-present targets and quotas and giving your team the right tools can make all the difference to their mental health at work.

Comprehensive prospecting platforms such as Outbase take a lot of the work out of qualifying leads, analysing leads after they enter the pipeline, and figuring out the optimisations that will make every stage of the sales funnel more successful.

Aside from the major uptick in productivity, prospecting software also makes it easier for sales professionals to work effectively in a work-from-home scenario. This will not only counteract stress with a greater degree of satisfaction in their work but with powerful collaboration capabilities, can also help counteract the feeling of isolation that worsens stress for remote workers.

3. Time Management Tools

Poor time management and stress often go hand in hand in a frustrating, self-sustaining loop. Poor time management leads to stress, which leads to worse time management, which leads to even more stress.

Though issues with time management can stem from a lot of different factors, making the simple change of equipping employees with solid time management tools can make this common stressor much easier to manage.

Tools like Harvest can help simplify the issue of time tracking by establishing a set amount of hours that each employee is due to work in a week, then breaking projects down into smaller, manageable tasks, each with a time value that will allow staff to effectively keep track of how their output is matching targets.

Aside from instantly combatting stress through simplified time management, these kinds of tools can also generate powerful insights for managers, showing the progress and profitability of projects, the productivity of teams, and bottlenecks that could be cause to hire more talent.

4. Stress Relief Apps

Though they’re not strictly a workplace tool, apps designed specifically for stress relief can be an effective, on-the-nose solution for helping employees combat workplace stress.

The market is now full of effective and affordable stress relief apps like Calm, full of features designed to help users reduce stress and combat other common mental health issues. 

Tailored to the needs of the individual, stress relief apps can be configured to assist users struggling with a wide range of mental and emotional issues, and help them work towards specific goals such as reducing general stress, getting more sleep, improving their focus, or working towards personal self-improvement goals more efficiently.

Many stress relief apps have free and paid versions with different libraries of guided meditations, self-reflection exercises, and other programs to help people deal with stress in a way that suits them. Many also feature bite-sized sessions perfect for reactive stress relief, empowering workers to take short breaks and come back to their desks happier and more energised.

5. Wearable Tech

Though it’s more associated with fitness goal tracking and performance, wearable tech can also be immensely helpful in managing workplace stress. Personal devices like Fitbit make it easy for wearers to keep track of their heart rate, sleep cycles, the intensity of physical activity, and more. 

When these are charted over time, users will find it easier to understand the things in their life that are causing them the most stress, and the healthy habits they can adopt in order to combat their sources of stress.

Aside from giving you a better idea of your general well-being, some pieces of wearable tech also have programs for monitoring electrodermal activity (EDA) and using this as a prompt to remind users to take a break and relax.

Final Thoughts

Combatting the ongoing mental health crisis at work can feel overwhelming at the best of times, but by understanding the causes and solutions to stress, people at all echelons of a business can work effectively to mitigate mental health challenges in the workplace.

As you navigate your own mental health challenges, we hope this post has helped you make better sense of your workplace stressors, and the steps you can take to combat them.

This article was written by mental health specialist Chris Harley