You can develop stress in any job, even if you love what you do. Deadlines, presentations, big projects... office culture is full of potential stressors. A buildup of stress can have negative consequences for employees from fatigue and sleep disturbances to a lack of motivation and anxiety.
Stress not only takes a personal toll on employees, it also impacts business. All too often, leaders can overlook workplace stress which undermines employee engagement and impacts peoples' ability to work effectively. Instead, leaders need to foster conditions that inspire employees to work hard and enjoy coming to work every day. They also need to focus on counteracting sources of stress and giving employees a chance to unwind and re-energizes.
We asked some of our brilliant customers what creative ways they used to help relieve stress in their organizations. Here's what they shared.
1. Help employees let of steam by playing (table) sports
"We have we have a pool table and a foosball table for our employees to enjoy if they are in need of a break. These also come in handy for company-wide tournaments when we raise money for The American Cancer Society!"
Karen Blalock, Manager, Learning and Development, Builders Mutual Insurance Company, Inc.
2. Bring some office cheer with a holiday decorating contest
"We recently had a holiday decorating contest where employees were encouraged to decorate their cubes, offices or they could decorate as a department. We used an employee survey for voting for your favorite and we selected 2 winners. It got everyone visiting with one another and stepping out of their own areas and departments mingled a bit more."
Jennifer Henry, HR Generalist, Mission Rock Residential, LLC
3. Offer a special place for employees to unwind
"We have little nooks and crannies throughout campus that we refer to as 3rd spaces - a place here at work away from your desk or lab bench to be able to give you a change of pace and reenergize yourself. We also offer spaces to do mediation daily."
Annalissa Yamashita, Human Resources Business Partner, Promega Corporation
4. De-stress and get healthy with monthly walking challenges
"Our Wellness Committee organizes monthly walking challenges. They gave all of us FitBits to track our steps, divided us into teams, and offered the team with the most steps a 0 gift card. We see a lot more people bringing tennis shoes to slip on for short walks during breaks and lunch now. This month's challenge is a punch card. Whoever visits the most places around campus by walking, wins. When you visit someone, they confirm you walked there and punch your card."
Maren Kelley, Operations and Strategic Projects Manager, ASCD
5. Flashback to childhood with a fun LEGO challenge
"The emerging leaders team all built Lego creatures, and those creatures played shenanigans on several employees. Oddly enough, just playing with LEGO was fun and a big stress reliever!"
Jerin Howard, HR Generalist, Harris Group
6. Melt away stress with some ice cream in the summer
"During the summer months, the organization arranges for the "Good Humor Ice Cream Truck" to stop by the offices to get an ice cream. It gets everyone outside for a few minutes to chat about non-work things and recall their childhood chasing the Good Humor Ice Cream Truck of their childhood. The Stress goes away!"
Jane Stanton, VP of Performance Management, Fairfield County Bank
7. Play a fun game of hide-and-go-seek with treats
"Every year around the holiday time between Thanksgiving & Christmas, I provide some fun with my little pal, Noel. Noel "hides" each morning in a new place in the office and his pal, Teresa, sends out an email encouraging the staff to find him & return him for a treat. It's a nice way to not only get people in the holiday spirit, but also creates some stress-free fun in the office!"
Teresa Naugle, Manager of People Experience, SC Telco Federal Credit Union
8. Organize a fun team outing
"VisitPITTSBURGH day is more than an office trip to a baseball game. It is intentionally relaxed time that we spend with each other as friends - sharing food, the warm sunlight of a Spring afternoon, and the excitement of rooting for the home team. The kind of bonding that naturally occurs between co-workers during VisitPITTSBURGH day helps to build strong relationships that mitigate stress and conflict throughout the year."
Mary Grasha Houpt, Vice President Human Resources, VisitPittsburgh
9. Energize as a team before busy season or a big project
"We have a busy season kick-off party which includes poker, ping pong, and pool tournaments. Tax/busy season can be stressful and this brings everyone who will be in the trenches for the next several months together."
Dan Hamann, Human Resource Director, Doeren Mayhew
10. Organize a "pop and chip" party
The end of the quarter can be a pretty hectic time. Last year to help employees de-stress, Halogen's HR team organized a "pop and chip" party. They covered three boardrooms in bubble wrap and bought every flavor of chip you can think of. Employees were invited to stop by to "pop" some bubble wrap and enjoy some delicious snacks. And let me tell you, popping bubble wrap when you're twenty-three is just as fun as when you were seven... so is fooling your co-workers into thinking you're taking a photo when you're actually recording ;).
Relieving a little stress at work with a Pop and Chips party... That's right, 3 boardrooms covered in industrial bubble wrap! #halogenlife #bejelly #stressrelief @halogensoftware @elias.rassi @melgallant
A video posted by Zoryana Cherwick (@zoryanacherwick) on Sep 29, 2015 at 1:24pm PDT
Your turn: What are some creative ways you help your employees relieve stress in the workplace?