Enhancing Productivity Through Stress Reduction

Byon April 08#business-tips
Enhancing Productivity Through Stress Reduction

Employee stress has been on the rise in recent years. Today, the American Psychological Association (APA) states that 83% of all American workers suffer from work-related stress, while 25% say that their job is the biggest life stressor. 

APA data also suggests that one million Americans miss work every day due to stress, which costs US businesses $51 billion per year. 

This lost productivity can be a real issue if your team is struggling with stress but you need them to perform at work. Left unchecked, chronic stress can result in burnout and a decline in overall well-being. This saps your employee’s energy during the day, undermines their motivation, and results in higher turnover rates. 

As a leader, you can take proactive steps to reduce stress and improve your team's wellbeing. This will increase productivity at work, reduce the risk of absenteeism, and help folks strike a more fulfilling work-life balance. 

Stress and Productivity 

Millions of Americans are living with chronic stress. The magnitude of this problem has caused some to call stress the biggest epidemic of the 21st century. This is because long-term stress results in serious health problems like: 

Heart disease




Long-term stress often results in issues like headaches, anxiety, muscle tension, substance abuse, and fatigue. This makes it harder for employees to perform at their best while at work and may even result in increased absenteeism. 

Stress may reduce employees' desire to pursue professional development, too. Put simply, when folks are feeling the pressure, they’re unlikely to invest time in anything other than their primary duties. This also means that your team is unlikely to pursue creative solutions to difficult problems, as doing so may result in setbacks. Over time, this reduces your operational agility and leaves you with a team that is solely focused on short-term goals to alleviate stress. 

Identifying Stress

If you haven’t surveyed your staff recently, you may be surprised to learn that they are feeling overwhelmed and are on the verge of burnout. That’s because many leaders do not complete the daily activities they ask of many employees and, unfortunately, become out-of-touch with the reality of day-to-day operations. 

Improve your understanding of employee morale and identify the causes of stress by regularly surveying your workforce. Even free, online survey forms can help you gather important qualitative and quantitative data. This can be used to identify common stressors and create a healthier, happier workforce. 

You can use these surveys to brainstorm ideas for addressing stress, too. Often, your team already knows their stressors and has a few ideas to reduce them. Taking a democratic approach to addressing stress shows staff that you care about their insights and are there to help them achieve their career goals. This can enhance their loyalty and improve morale at the business. 

Addressing Stress

If your surveys reveal that your team is overstressed and chronically fatigued, you need to act fast or risk losing talented employees. Begin by revising your expectations to reduce stress and free up time for more creative tasks like brainstorming solutions to burnout.

Revising your key performance indicators (KPIs) to reduce stress is crucial if you work in an inherently dangerous industry like manufacturing or construction. Left unaddressed, stress can lead to accidents and injuries at work as folks will be more likely to overlook safety protocols if they are struggling to keep up with their KPIs. This diminishes your long-term productivity and can result in expensive legal fees. 

If you’re concerned about stress but can’t afford to permanently reduce KPIs, consider investing in stress management training. Stress management training can help staff identify the triggers of their stress and empower employees to handle challenging periods. This reduces the risk of your team becoming overwhelmed and can help you build a more resilient, productive work culture. 

Addressing stress enhances your teamwork initiatives, too. Folks work best together when they can hold each other mutually accountable and support one another. By addressing stress, you create a more positive, productive culture and encourage folks to come forward with well-thought-out constructive criticism. 

Design Choices

Addressing stressors directly is crucial if you want to protect your team and improve productivity in the long term. However, you can increase the effectiveness of these operational changes by making design choices that naturally de-stress your team and improve productivity at work. 

Start by redesigning your workspace using color psychology principles. Color psychology can be traced back to ancient Egypt and is used to help manage emotions and behavior. In general, colors like blue, green, and violet are associated with positive emotions like peace, tranquility, and understanding. 

You can even utilize blue lighting in areas to create calm spaces. Consider designing these calming rooms with decor that inspires peacefulness and a sense of tranquility. For example, if you have a spare office room that will be converted to a relaxing area, consider using low, blue-filtered lights, artwork of serene landscapes, and seating pods that help folks put a barrier between themselves and the chaos of the outside world. This can provide an important respite in the middle of a busy day and shows that you’re serious about wellbeing at work. 

Work-Life Balance

Many folks experience chronic stress and burnout when they cannot achieve a work-life balance. Workers who sign up for excessive overtime and clock on when they should be resting are at real risk of developing fatigue and losing their focus. 

Remote workers are at heightened risk of overworking and undermining their work-life balance. Often, folks who work from home sign on early and clock off far later than they are meant to. Some remote workers will check emails outside of working hours and may even silently work on projects when they are not being paid to work. 

As a leader, you can help remote employees restore their work-life balance by setting aside funds for engaging activities. This gives remote employees, who may feel isolated when WFH, something to look forward to outside of work. Allow folks to sign up for activities that bring them joy, or consider suggesting activities like: 

Woodworking classes


Writing workshops

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

These activities will help employees find new interests and discover passions that take them away from work. This can boost productivity by helping folks rest and recover properly. It may even help folks accumulate creative skills that improve their ability to problem solve and think critically when at work. 


Reducing stress among employees should be a top priority if you want to run a productive organization. Even simple changes, like filtering more blue light into the office, can help folks feel at peace when at work. Just be sure to follow through with operational changes, too, as employees who are close to burnout will benefit from reduced workloads and additional support. 

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