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How Can Employers Reduce Stress in the Workplace? Tips from Confetti

Reducing workplace stress benefits everyone! Learn how you can foster a remote workplace that reduces employee stress levels, straight from Confetti CEO Lee Rubin.

#Work-Life Balance
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With the rise of remote work, creating better practices around stress management and mindfulness at work can help make this virtual ship run smoother. With the expectation to ‘constantly be on’, remote work can bring about some unique stressors, but it doesn’t have to be that way! 

From rumored mouse-and-click-tracking to feelings of isolation without seeing a room full of people, let's discuss the challenges and solutions of how to make remote work a little less stressful for you and your team members. 

A pie graph displaying the following: What are the ain sources of stress in your work environment? 44% Lack of clear communication or direction from management, 19% High workload or unrealistic deadlines, 12% Micromanagement or lack of autonomy, 12% Poor work-life balance,  9% Job insecurity or fear of layoffs, 2% Conflicts with colleagues or supervisors, 2% other
We surveyed participants from our recent webinar on workplace stress, and here’s what they had to say! 

What are the main sources of workplace stress?

  • High workload or unrealistic deadlines
  • Lack of clear communication or direction from management
  • Conflicts with colleagues or supervisors
  • Job insecurity or fear of layoffs
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Micromanagement or lack of autonomy

According to studies by Work in America, 44% of global employees regularly experience work-related stress and 92% of workers feel it’s important to work for an organization that values their well-being. While remote work has plenty of benefits for a healthier work-life balance, many employees deal with high levels of stress in the remote workplace. Why?

The four workplace stressors that can be particularly experienced with remote work are:

  1. A lack of boundaries and separation between the office and home.
  2. The accessibility of technology makes it hard to switch off. Many people who work remotely feel this need to constantly “be on” or available.
  3. Social isolation felt from losing those spontaneous in-person “watercooler moments” throughout the day.
  4. Without those small moments of interaction, work can feel purely transactional.

So how can employers reduce stress in the workplace?

We've talked about the problem, but let's discuss the solutions. With the right strategies in place, you can help mitigate these remote work stressors. Here are the solutions we use at Confetti to reduce stress and foster an environment that caters to our team's individual physical and mental health.

1. Establish a routine, process, and rules of conduct

This can look different from team to team or department to department, but establishing your code of conduct makes a world of difference. Here are the things we care about at Confetti that help us establish this:

  • Strict calendar maintenance: We encourage employees to share what they’re working on throughout the day. If you're on a break, cool - write you’re on a break so we know we cannot reach you. However, if that spot is empty it’s either an indicator that you’re not busy or not working.
  • Our hours of operation are 9-5 PM ET: Our main hours of operation are 9-5 PM ET. We don’t expect employees to wake up and log on any earlier or later than that, but if a meeting gets set during this time frame it's game-on. You can live, travel, and work wherever you want, but you need to accommodate at least a handful of available hours during this block of time, coordinating with team members and making sure both sides are comfortable. However, life (and calendar adjustments) happen! If one person needs to make a sacrifice it should be the person asking for hours outside of the 9-5 PM ET framework.
  • Responsiveness: This is a core communication value that is important to us, especially during those 9-5 PM ET hours. If your calendar isn’t being maintained fully, we should be able to get a quick response from you for those time-sensitive needs. Even just a quick reply back saying “Hey, I’m OOO to pick up my kids - I’ll respond by X hour” helps both sides have their needs met, while still humanizing the workplace.
  • Establish tech boundaries: When we first started Confetti, we were all on WhatsApp. It was tough because our personal and professional lives were hard to separate. We then brought on Slack and made a rule that we won’t message people on WhatsApp anymore unless it's an after-hours emergency (or just for fun 💃). Creating work-life boundary separation helps us disconnect. 

2. Encourage mindful breaks

This can look different from team to team and season to season. At Confetti we encourage a few things to help here:

  • Take the first 2-5 minutes of a meeting to connect personally and break the ice: During this time actively listen and use your emotional intelligence to suss out the vibes. If you notice something, you can ask your team member, “Hey, you seem down today. Is everything ok?” These little moments go a long way in building relationships in a digital environment. If you’re really crunched for time that day, acknowledge that and just express yourself by saying, “Hey, I’m really swamped today so would it be ok if we just hop straight to it?” 
  • Days on vs. days off: Encourage employees to take breaks whenever they need to tend to their physical and mental health concerns. Q4 is our biggest quarter of the year, so we discourage taking days or weeks off during some patches here. But once that is done, we highly encourage employees to take those vacation days before or after our busy season. HR monitors PTO and brings up unused time to an individual if needed. When tough life or work moments arise, they might even give that team member a friendly push to take the time off.

3. Foster mindful connection

This is tough to do in a remote setting where you can often easily misinterpret people’s written word and not have enough body language cues to fill in the blanks. Keeping that in mind, here are some tips we try to live by:

  • Constructive feedback should be left for verbal settings only. The second you catch yourself upset, frustrated, or whatever word you want to pick here, it's a good time to schedule a call with that person and iron things out. (Don’t forget to use your non-violent forms of communication!)
  • Do 360-degree reviews. Feedback shouldn’t just go top-down. It should be down to up and side to side. Sure, it’s a lot of work and can sometimes feel like “Ugh, another review!?!” but each conversation aims to help and contribute to a positive culture.
  • Know Your Channels: You should know when to go to your team members with certain information. With my team, we have a few pillars that make up our communication:some text
    • TBD (To be discussed): This is our 1:1 time that happens weekly (but that can look different for you). We have a mutual and shared ‘to talk about list’ that lives on Notion (it doesn’t need to be fancy) categorized by Urgent/Important, Important/Not Urgent, Casual, and Quick Wins. Quick wins usually are convo/topics that can be covered in 2 minutes or less so we usually like to start there to create a flow to our meeting. The TBD is really there for quick questions and answers. Usually, everything is 5 minutes or less, with bigger topics being 10-15 minutes. Anything more than that should be scheduled separately.
    • Slack: Personally, I hate getting tasks assigned to me via Slack, so I ask my team to send those via email and only use Slack for quick questions, updates, or little fun day-to-day moments. I’m sure there are others here that I’m not listing, but the point is to figure out what works for you and your team and adapt accordingly.
    • Weekly Updates: These are updates I get from my team once a week (again via Notion). These are updates and things I can read without really needing to discuss (although I can always bring a certain topic back into our TBD). Here I’m informed by my team on their projects and progress.

4. Offer flexibility and adaptability

One of the biggest perks of working remotely is the flexibility one should have over one’s schedule and setting. Being a very outcome-oriented organization allows you to put some of the other details aside like “Is Bob working at 9 or not?!” Maybe Bob prefers to start later and finish later and his team schedule allows him to do so. Maybe Bob likes working out of a coffee shop because his toddlers come home mid-day and working from home is distracting to him. If Bob’s outcome is good… the rest shouldn’t matter as long as it doesn’t directly affect or interfere with your outcome. 

Plus, what’s especially important with remote work is when those big life moments throw our entire schedule out the window, (such as a birth or a loss) remote work managers have a unique sense of opportunity to adapt to their team members’ needs and help them reduce workplace stress during those times.

5. Foster social connection

Caring for your team's mental health goes further than just offering employee assistance programs. Fostering a sense of community is just as important if not more important in a virtual setting because so many of those little moments in the office simply don’t exist in a remote work setting. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. I often think that the people who really like working remotely would simply rather go and pet their dog for 5 minutes instead of speaking to their coworker by the water cooler. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to recreate those ‘watercooler moments’. 

When planning events, it's best to consider a strategy of at least quarterly team building get-togethers. Ideally, you should rotate it amongst company, departmental, and all-team events to keep things fresh and allow for new cultural moments and moments of connection across the organization. Depending on your culture consider doubling up on one of these.

Tip:💡 Team dynamics are the most important since your team is the people you spend the most time with, so we suggest making that one of your priorities.

How to get started 👉 Invest in your team's mental and physical health with Confetti's Health and Wellness team building activities! 
Health & Wellness by Confetti

Encourage workplace wellness with Confetti 🎉

Workplace stress is unavoidable from time to time, but as you can see there are ways to create a company culture that meets your teammates where they're at, and Confetti is here to help.

Book a call to speak with Confetti's Happiness Concierge to get started finding the right experience for your team!    

Speak with our Happiness Concierge to learn how Confetti can help your team! Schedule a Call
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