W2 Issues/Concerns


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Helping Employees Relax Benefits Bottom Line

There are many benefits to having your employees relax. Relaxation promotes creativity, solid decision making and good health.

Eighty percent of workers report feeling stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42 percent say their coworkers need such help, according to The American Institute of Stress. With employees working more hours than ever, it’s not surprising that the number of employees calling in sick because of stress has tripled from 1996 to 2000, according to a survey of 800,000 workers in over 300 companies. This amounts to an estimated 1 million workers are absent every day due to stress.

So what can you as the employer do to mitigate these risks? Help your employees relax a bit throughout the day. It will benefit your bottom line with lower absenteeism, insurance costs and morale.

Below are just a few ways that you help the employees relax in your office:

Take a Breath
Deep breathing has been scientifically proven to improve oxygen delivery, reduce blood pressure, relax muscles and help release feel-good endorphins, among other benefits. The best part is that it can be easily accomplished at a desk, with no equipment required. Simple 15-minute guided deep breathing exercises can prove to be the perfect mid-day mind clearing activity and help foster relaxation.

Take a Look
Invite your employees to take a few minutes to participate in a short, guided imagery exercise. Available through various websites and online apps, guided imagery teaches people how to lock into certain soothing mental images to help promote mental and even physical healing. A 10-minute break using guided imagery can be enough to allow employees to unwind and take a mental break at their desk.

Host a Book Swap
Reading is one of the best – and most cost-effective – ways to relax. Encourage your employees to each bring in a book, set them up on a centrally-located area, and keep a simple sign-up sheet that logs who brought which book and who will be borrowing. In addition to promoting relaxation, it can also foster inter-department relationships as employees realize that they share favorite authors, characters or book genres.

Lighten Up
For a longer-lasting change that will promote relaxation throughout the year, consider changing up the lighting in your office. Studies have shown that capitalizing on available natural light can help improve mood and energy levels, so consider positioning desks closer to windows where possible. If that isn’t an option in your office, consider adding blue-enriched light, which comes in bulb or filter form, to cubicle areas to reduce fatigue and enhance work performance, or use warmer-toned bulbs in break rooms to promote calmness and relaxation.

Get Comfy
There’s nothing relaxing about sitting in an uncomfortable chair for 8-10 hours per day. If possible, consider offering staff ergonomic chairs, or even standing desks, to promote good posture and body mechanics every day. Another option if new office furniture isn’t in the budget is to encourage employees to move around – encouraging employees to host their meetings at a coffee shop within walking distance, or better yet, having them take their usual sit-down meetings to the streets and walk for the duration, can be immensely helpful in getting employees out of their chairs and break up prolonged sitting periods.

Keep it Clean
Stress compromises the immune system and if employees are felling a lot of stress, it can cause them to be more susceptible to illness. One way to help them feel better is to evaluate their environment—you might not be able to change that deadline, but you can ensure they are working in the healthiest environment possible.

Sick building syndrome occurs when employees feel under the weather because of the state of their environment. It is absolutely a real thing and may be contributing to the number of sick days that your workers take.

Sick building syndrome is caused by a build-up of toxins, dust and germs found in poorly ventilated spaces, such as offices. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headache stuffy nose, sore throat, and itchy eyes. So how can you turn this around? Well, the first step is to clean up – dust and grime are terrible for the respiratory system and not so easy on the eyes, because it harbors all kinds of bacteria, mold, fungus and other irritants.

Next, consider ways that you can improve the air quality in your office, such as changing filters, adding an air purification system or even just dotting some live plants around the office. Another great, low-cost fix? On nice days, plan to throw open the doors and windows for a few hours to let that old stale air out of the building and fresh, fully-oxygenated air back in.

Need some help developing a relaxation and stress relieving plan for your employees? Ask Abel HR’s human resource experts can design a custom plan for you. Reach out at (800) 400-1968 or info@abelhr.com.




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