- Employee stress is on the rise. A survey by Alight Solutions found that 73% of employees in the U.S. and Western Europe rate their current stress levels at least as moderate or high and 34% said they are suffering from symptoms of burnout.
- Improve communication. Alight’s survey found that less than half (40%) of employees report that their employer has actively communicated more about stress and mental health in the past year.
- Offer flexibility. Employees surveyed indicated that more workplace flexibility would reduce stress levels. Employers should think out of the box when it comes to giving employees the flexibility options they need — like a shorter work week, additional wellness hours or a designated day of the month just for well-being.
- Embrace technology. Embracing technology can help, as 90% of employees surveyed want a one-stop shop for all benefits and well-being benefits, and 87% also think mobile access is important.
With National Stress Awareness Month happening in April, results from a recent survey indicate that it might be a smart move for employers and their HR leaders to investigate workplace stress-reduction strategies.
Alight Solution’s “2022 International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Report” found that 73% of employees surveyed in the U.S. and Western Europe rate their current stress levels at least moderate or high. In addition, 34% said they suffer symptoms of burnout.
Karen Auriemma, vice president, HR, at American Real Estate Partners (AREP), is not surprised by the Alight survey findings. She said her organization works closely with tenant employers in their buildings to help reduce stress.
“When it comes to boosting the employee experience to help tenant workforce reduce stress, we also do the same internally to ensure our employees can thrive in their work environment,” Auriemma said. “Whether it’s our employees or our tenants’ employees, we take the same careful, holistic approach to wellness and stress reduction.”
Laine Thomas Conway, Alight Solutions’ vice president and communication strategy thought leader, said encouraging better communication is a good start to address the challenge of lowering stress levels; Alight, a cloud-based human capital and technology services provider, found that less than half (40%) of employees report that their employer has actively communicated more about stress and mental health in the past year.
“Clearly there is still a long way to go when it comes to active communication with employers,” she said, adding that for employers who already have started a more proactive communications strategy, they need to ensure that it goes beyond mere awareness of support. Rather, it requires creating a committed call to action to help activate and propel employees into getting truly involved.
“There are so many programs and resources that employers are offering which are simply being underutilized,” Thomas Conway said. “We know the value is there, so employers have to think creatively about how to get their people to make the effort, sign up and try things. Because if they do, they are almost guaranteed to like it.”
Another key Alight survey finding is that only half of employees indicated they have spoken openly with their manager about job-related stress.
“It would be helpful if managers felt more knowledgeable about an employer’s existing resources in that area to help employees,” she noted.
Thomas Conway said another innovative way to drive stress reduction outcomes is through business or employee resource groups (ERGs), as 47% of employees said that when they are stressed, they often have a coworker to reach out to for help.
“Many of these ERGs can be a great conduit for stress relief,” she said.
Flexibility Plays a Role
Thomas Conway said it’s also not too surprising that those surveyed found workplace flexibility as another potential path to stress reduction.
“Remote work, hybrid work and full return to the office are still being considered by employers, but employees may need even more flexibility than employers realize,” she said, adding that a “better balance” is the No. 1 answer employees offer when asked what could improve their well-being the most.
Alight’s research also found one third of employees said they were spending more than five hours every month each on financial, physical and mental health tasks while working.
“Employers need to think out of the box when it comes to giving employees the flexibility options they need — like a shorter workweek, additional wellness hours or a designated day of the month just for well-being,” she said.
Embracing technology can help too, Thomas Conway noted, as 90% of respondents want a one-stop shop for all benefits and well-being benefits, and 87% also think mobile access is important.
When it comes to stress, 59% of employees said they value of mental and emotional health apps, regardless of whether they have access to them or not). That number jumps to 69% if they know it’s offered by their employer and 88% for those who have used apps.
In the age of hybrid work, AREP’s Auriemma said her company sees more tenants change from traditional office spaces to high-quality buildings with state-of-the art amenities to help improve the employee experience.
“Employers must play a crucial role in boosting employees’ overall well-being and thus reduce stress by creating a workspace where people really want to be,” she said, noting that AREP offers stress-reduction perks for both employees and tenants, including perks like shared indoor/outdoor workspaces with seamless connectivity, curated food offerings and activities like yoga classes.
“Knowing that a third of all employees dread going to work and 44% are experiencing at least one symptom of burnout, we can’t ignore how the overall employee experience is impacting our people’s mental and emotional health,” Alight’s Thomas Conway said.
“It’s time to rethink corporate culture around employee stress and reinforce well-being. It’s a prime example of walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”
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