How your brand can actually reduce employee stress

After two years, the idea of returning to socializing and working in groups can be…stressful. Many of us feel like butterflies with a few feet still stuck in our cocoons.

Most businesses want their employees to eventually return to the office. This desire comes with the responsibility to facilitate a stress-free transition. Will foosball tables and craft beer on Fridays do the trick? Probably not this time.

Here are 4 things research says actually alleviate stress, to help make your brand’s RTO as enjoyable as possible.

1. Encourage meditation by facilitating the time and space.

Meditation is proven to not only provide immediate relief from stress, but train the mind overtime to better handle potential future stressors. It’s free, always available, and significantly helpful. So, what can your organization do to encourage employees to take the first step?

Provide the time and the space. Chances are that someone on your team is interested in teaching meditation classes once a week. External coaches are also readily available. This is a great opportunity for bonding and strengthening internal culture, and it will empower employees to be able to practice on their own.

Space is also important. Specialized office spaces are nothing new: Google has sleep pods, Spotify has a nap room, Twitter has treadmills. Meditation doesn’t require anything quite as fancy–just a quiet room–but furnishing it with pillows, mats and soft lighting is a nice touch.


2. Provide employees opportunities to be in nature.

Intuitively, we know that nature heals. But there’s actual proof in a study that found significant differences in the recovery time of hospital patients who had access to, or did not have access to, a window with a tree. Tree-view patients stayed less time, used less pain medication, and had far more positive notes from nurses. A similar study cites 95% of participants experienced positive changes in mood after being in nature.

This is an easy one for workplaces to implement. You need only encourage employees to take walking meetings in nearby parks, host events surrounded by wildlife, or make room for staff to be able to walk to and from work by accommodating varying schedules.


3. Provide healthy food options

Love your green smoothies? Well, your body will thank you for it. It turns out eating nutritious foods heals our cells and provides us with the energy required to navigate troubling situations. What prevents most of us from healthy eating isn’t knowledge, however—it’s access.

That’s where your workplace comes in. It may not be possible for every organization to have a kitchen that provides healthy food options, but it’s easy to provide free nutritious snacks.

Our Montreal office includes an opt-in meal plan where employees can have fresh meals cooked by a team of chefs every day of the week. They don’t need to worry about scrambling in the morning to pack a suitable amount of protein and veggies.

Investing in the health, vitality and happiness of your employees pays dividends.


4. Hire good communicators, and invest in culture.

Stress is an inevitable reality of the workplace. Or is it? What exactly at work is stressful?

Abrupt deadlines, disrespectful exchanges, burnout–it’s quite the list. But everything has a solution, and most often it’s open, honest and positive communication.

Research shows that positive intent in the workplace can reduce stress. It’s simple: assuming everyone is doing their best cultivates empathy and peace. If a colleague is being short, rather than receive it as a value judgment on your work, consider that in all likelihood it has nothing to do with you, and receive it with an open and understanding attitude.

Fostering an environment where everyone, from all backgrounds and experiences, feels safe to speak their minds goes part and parcel with that philosophy. Diversity, equity and inclusion needs to be the foreground of both hiring and internal cultural practices, and soft skills should be valued as highly as training or education.

As our Head of Account Services Zemina Moosa recently put it, “The most important thing for me to do [as a leader] is to build a culture and environment that allows my teams to be and do their best.”

Feels right, doesn’t it? Let’s return to each other with grace.