Stress on the job is not new to the American workforce. However, recent events, such as elevated terror levels and a poor economic climate, have exacerbated workplace stress. Combine these with workforce downsizing and even the most tempered employee may feel extreme workplace stress on occasion.
Recognizing and treating stress is a complicated process. Everyone has their own level of stress that they manage on a daily basis. When this level increases it can motivate an employee to focus and be organized or it can lead to distractibility and depression. Stress is one of the leading causes of illness in the workplace.
Employers can minimize the effects of stress on productivity by:
- Increasing natural light,
- Allowing frequent breaks,
- Addressing workplace issues, and
- Sponsoring an employee fitness program.
Employees can reduce stress levels in many ways, including:
- Learning relaxation and organization techniques,
- Asking for help when needed, and
- Participating in employee sponsored wellness programs.
Accommodation ideas to deal with stress include:
- Using deep breathing exercises;
- Reducing distractions in the work area;
- Taking a break;
- Using a picture of a relaxing place (e.g., beach or hammock);
- Playing soothing music or environmental sounds;
- Placing a small desk top aquarium or a lava lamp in the work space; and
- Using positive self talk.