By Ann Wyatt, Vice President, Program Management & Engagement
In today’s crazy-busy, constantly engaged world, stress is a given. Not only is stress top of mind for employees--it’s starting to impact their health. And remember that unfortunately, stress doesn’t always let up during summer – a time associated with fun activities and a more leisurely pace. Just because kids are at summer camp and vacations are in full swing doesn’t mean employees are any less stressed.
Decreased immune system, digestive issues and migraines are known effects of unmanaged stress, which also weighs on employee mental health and wellbeing. Stressed employees may experience extreme fatigue or feel out of control. And mental stress can negatively impact employee attendance, morale and overall effectiveness.
The importance of managing stress
Research shows that 42 percent of adults say they are not doing enough to manage their stress—and as many as 20 percent of adults report that they never engage in activities that help them manage their stress.
Employers rightfully are concerned about these numbers and becoming increasingly mindful of the mental and emotional dimensions of their employees’ health.
In fact, a Towers Watson survey reported that 75 percent of employers are very concerned about employee stress. That’s why a growing number of companies are expanding their wellbeing programs by employing strategies that boost employee mindfulness and resiliency.
Here are five fresh strategies we use at our client sites to help employees stress less and focus on what matters most.
1. Take five to relax, refocus and re-energize
Do your employees have five minutes a day? I bet they do. And if so, than they have time to be mindful in the moment.
Through the mindfulness wellness challenge “Take Five: Calm Your Busy Mind,” employees learn how to stress less and focus on the positive things in life. Employees will complete easy tasks—like taking stretch breaks, walk breaks and time to connect—in five minutes or less. And daily tasks keep employees motivated and mindful throughout the program.
2. Take active lunch breaks
On-site staff at several of our corporate fitness client sites encourage and lead employees on walks in nearby parks and provide lunch to get people outside of the office, make connections and socialize.
3. Find balance in the conference room
To engage employees in stress-reducing exercises, our on-site fitness staff join employee meetings to conduct simple movements, such as five-minute energy breaks, to get sedentary workers moving and re-energized.
4. Leverage educational seminars and classes to boost mindfulness
“Manage Stress—Before it Manages You,” is one of our most requested Mind Your Health educational seminars. Mind Your Health seminars are professionally developed, one-hour seminars provided by a HealthFitness professional via webinar or on-site. Through “Manage Stress—Before it Manages You,” your employees will learn to identify stress-related symptoms, how to categorize stressors, when to take action or use coping skills, along with quick relaxation techniques.
Mindfulness Matters: By focusing on different aspects of mindfulness in this four week class—the act of being aware of and experiencing the present moment—participants learn how to integrate this meditative practice into everyday life.
Beyond Balance (4 weeks): Participants learn to identify the symptoms and causes of stress, including how to take action through acceptance, coping skills, quick relaxation tips and finding a healthy balance.
5. What’s What meet-ups
Our dedicated on-site staff also conduct 10- to 15-minute What’s What meet-ups on a variety of health and wellbeing topics—including Mindfulness. Employees will get the facts on mindfulness, including how it can help relieve anxiety and stress and boost personal awareness and connections.
Please contact us to learn more our educational resources and to partner with HealthFitness to inspire and engage employees in their health and wellbeing.
About the author:
Ann is Vice President, Program Management & Engagement. She has 25 years of experience in the health management and fitness industry. Her role includes strategy development and driving engagement for new and existing health management and corporate fitness programs, employee recruiting and training, program quality assurance and operations management. Ann holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Old Dominion University and a Master of Education in Exercise Physiology from Auburn University.