It’s no secret that workplace stress has a significant impact on both our work and home lives. Employees from all levels of seniority, from junior members through to business owners and managing directors suffer the effects of workplace stress.

However, there are plenty of things businesses can do to combat its effects. In this article Tom Kiddle, Chief Commercial Officer at Equals Money explores why businesses should be taking active steps to tackle stress in the workplace, offering five simple solutions.

The workplace stress cycle

In addition to causing several mental symptoms such as poor concentration, decreased confidence, and a loss of motivation, workplace stress can cause physical strain on our bodies too. When we fail to reduce the pressure and stress of work overtime, this can create a build-up of tension, resulting in various forms of physical discomfort including back, neck, or joint pain.
Not only does this pain distract workers from completing their tasks, our research has shown it also prevents a quarter of employees from enjoying their time outside of work – creating a knock-on effect on their overall quality of life.

One particular area commonly identified as exacerbating workplace stress is financial admin such as filling expenses and managing invoices. This is even more significant for those working in small businesses, where managing cashflow and timely payments are vital in keeping a company running. This issue is so prominent that the National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses found last year 52% of small businesses experienced late payments with 37% of applying for credit to manage their cashflow as a result. The cost-of-living crisis has only worsened these pressures, keeping many up at night due to the stress of work finances.

Despite stress-induced pain being attributed to the workplace, not enough is being done to alleviate both physical and mental discomfort and improve employee wellbeing. In our recent survey of 1,500 office workers, we found that as many as 90% claimed to feel stressed at work – with nearly a fifth experiencing ongoing feelings of stress throughout their workdays. Additionally, 88% of those surveyed suffer from some form of physical pain (back, neck or joint pain) while at work, and over a third (36%) stated this pain distracts them from completing their tasks.

What does this mean for businesses?

Workplace stress is not only bad for the work force but has serious knock-on effect for businesses. Elevated levels of stress make the workforce less efficient and unable to perform to the best of their ability. Many of the office workers we surveyed noted having to take time off due to stress (60%) or even admitted to searching for new jobs altogether (29%). At a time when most businesses are under pressure, this spells a dire warning for employers battling with staff retention, business efficiency, and profitability.

There are several things businesses can do to support employee wellbeing and alleviate the symptoms of workplace stress, from more structural changes to promoting things which might already be available.

Steps to alleviate workplace stress

1. Hydration

Hydration plays a key role in our mental and physical wellbeing, keeping our minds refreshed and our bodies properly lubricated. Making sure we drink enough water, however, is something we often forget, particularly when we’re busy with work. To ensure your work force is keeping hydrated, make sure all office spaces have easily accessible water bottle refilling points and refreshments facilities.

2. Happy body, happy mind

When stressed, it’s common to reach for the sugary and comforting snacks, however, excessive sugar consumption over time can actually increase inflammation in the body and potentially worsen physical symptoms of stress such as bad and neck pain. Having a weekly provision of healthy snacks available in a workplace can help encourage workers to reduce their sugar intake.

3. Regular desk breaks

We all know that taking time away from our workstations is good for us, giving our minds and bodies a well needed break. However, when the tasks are piling higher and higher, taking this time away can feel impossible. To help encourage workers to take a five minute stretch, implement an hourly reminder to take a break or request they log a certain number of intervals in their day where they get in some movement between tasks.

4. Streamlining admin tasks

Often the tasks which feel the most stressful and time consuming are those tedious but hugely important admin tasks such as billing and invoicing. Where possible, businesses can cut time consuming admin for their teams and make workloads more manageable by using innovative solutions. For example, Equals Money gives workers one less thing to worry with our platform that makes business payments, expense management, and more pain free.

5. Health and wellbeing schemes

Ensuring your business has a comprehensive wellbeing scheme in place allows employees to alleviate physical and mental strain before long-term damage occurs. In turn, this enables workers to complete tasks to the best of their ability while at work and fully recharge while at home. If you already have a health scheme in place, check it includes a holistic range of treatments such as a chiropractor or osteopath who can help with the physical side of stress.

Work stress is something that impacts us all from entry level roles all the way up to senior leadership positions, but that doesn’t mean it should be an accepted part of a business’ working culture. Identifying particular business pressure points and putting in place the appropriate measures to alleviate workplace stress will not only benefit your employees and create a supportive work environment, but will also show in your business’s output, growth, and profitability.

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Tom Kiddle
Chief Commercial Officer at Equals Money | + posts

With over a decade of payments industry experience, Tom joined the Equals Money team in 2022. As Chief Commercial Officer, Tom is responsible for the commercial performance of Equals Group.

 As part of his passion for growth and development, Tom has a personal interest in the inner workings of businesses, and the practical measures that can be taken to improve output, efficiency, and employee wellbeing.