Top 5 ways Canadian firms can lower employee’s stress levels and boost productivity
An employee engagement study by Gallup reveals that companies can improve their bottom lines by focusing on keeping their employees happy. According to the study, firms with the most engaged employees were 22 per cent more profitable than those with the least engaged employees. Attracting and retaining skilled employees is more important than ever and organizations must strive to build an office environment that creates a highly engaged and productive workforce.
For the second year in a row, Staples Business Advantage surveyed more than 3,000 workers and managers in Canada and the United States to find out what motivates today’s employees and help businesses meet their hiring and retention goals.
The results show burnout is a concern, with nearly 70 per cent of Canadian office workers and managers working more than 40 hours a week to complete assignments they couldn’t fit into an eight-hour day. They are working late nights, early mornings, and, not surprisingly, they are stressed. Nearly half of the Canadian respondents report feeling overworked, and this is leading them to look for other employment opportunities.
The study results show employers need to take steps to reduce employee stress if they want a workforce that’s focused and productive. To create a workplace culture that’s less stress-inducing, employers should look at taking the following steps:
- Offer health and wellness programs. Sixty-six per cent of Canadian respondents says the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job. Wellness programs could include fresh foods, onsite gyms, fitness devices and other perks that help improve health and wellbeing. Better health behaviours can increase the mental, emotional and physical well-being of employees and boost productivity.
- Create well-designed office environments. The majority of Canadian survey respondents describe their office as standard, plain and dull. This applies even to those working in an open or hybrid environment. Employees would like to have natural light, standing desks, lounge areas, and ergonomic and flexible furniture for multiple uses. Giving employees options to work in areas other than their desk – like private locations for jobs requiring intense concentration and larger areas that are more conducive to collaborative discussions – is an important consideration.
- Provide employees with the latest technology. Seventy-one per cent of Canadian respondents says their organizations do not give them access to the most up-to-date technology that would help them do their jobs better. Even those who feel they are productive at work believe they could be doing more with the latest tools. These tools could be a wearable device, smart phone, or technology that allows them to telecommute or work remotely in places such as airports or hotel rooms.
- Offer perks and encourage breaks. The survey discovered that lounges or break rooms with healthy snacks and coffee create happier and more productive workers, as well as a more social, collaborative environment and less stress. Employers should encourage short breaks throughout the day and organize office gatherings to disconnect. Seventy-five per cent of Canadian employees says they feel more productive after a break but nearly 50 per cent are reluctant to take a break due to workload, guilt or employer/co-worker pressure.
- Recognize employees. The survey found employees appreciate the recognition of their hard work. Recognition can energize workers and boost confidence and motivation. Employers should also encourage an open-door environment where employees can speak openly. Policies that make workers feel acknowledged and appreciated will lead to happier, harder-working employees.
The study reveals employees thrive in a workplace when they believe their employer is sensitive to their mental and physical needs and well-being. Focusing on key drivers that improve health, creativity and morale will boost employee happiness, productivity and can ultimately impact a company’s bottom line.
Michael Zahra is the president of Staples Business Advantage Canada
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