Helping your workforce handle stress (and stay safe)

Koa Health
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How stress impacts wellbeing and what employers can do about it

Celebrated in April across the US and the UK, Stress Awareness Month was founded in 1992. Initially intended to increase public awareness around stress, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what’s behind stress, how it impacts people’s health and wellbeing, and perhaps most crucially, what can be done to reduce risk and keep stress in check.

An essential step towards increasing people’s understanding of why stress matters, raising awareness is just the beginning. As we face mounting large-scale challenges on the world stage and near continuous change, it can be easy to wave off stress as the least of our worries. But that would be a grave mistake—as now, more than ever, people need effective, evidence-based support to help them manage stress and protect and prioritize their mental health.

At Koa Health, mental health for all has been our mission from the start. Together with our partners and clients, our team is working towards a future where mental wellbeing and mental health care are accessible to people everywhere. And to our way of thinking, guiding people towards effective, evidence-based ways to handle stress is mission-critical.

How prolonged stress impacts employee health and safety

While, to some degree, some stress is unavoidable in life (it is, after all, a biological function), persistently high stress levels can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestive issues, cardiac problems, and more. Stress is also linked to increased safety risks and, with them, a higher incidence of on-the-job accidents. Experts estimate up to 80% of accidents are caused by stress-induced issues such as distraction, fatigue, and sleep problems.

Thus equipping workers with the resources and tools they need to cope with stress is a pressing safety issue—not just a nice-to-have or an added value to consider in your pursuit of a more positive team culture. With this in mind, the question then becomes not why but how to make it happen.

Helping your workforce handle stress

Your employees spend much of their energy at work—not to mention most of their waking hours. This puts employers in a unique position to empower and enable their employees to handle stress as it arises and to support their mental health more generally. To do this, you’ll want to start by educating your workforce on stress and poor mental wellbeing and how they impact our ability to bring our best selves (and ideas) to work and thrive as a team, even under challenging circumstances.

Regular wellbeing check-ins are a quick win that organizations can implement at little-to-no cost. Make a point of asking employees how they’re feeling and train leaders to do the same. This works best if you pair your check-ins with follow-ups that include practical directions to further resources and benefits available.

You may also want to consider how pathways to the care you provide may affect people’s ability to access the support they need. The stigma and inconvenience of traditional approaches to care can compound the stress people are already dealing with during a mental health struggle and may prevent them from getting the care they need. By making sure that approachable, evidence-based support (beyond meditation and mindfulness) is available without a diagnosis, you can help your employees develop the skills they need to manage stress and boost wellbeing without fear of judgment.

Want to learn more about stress and how to handle the risk it presents to your workforce? Download our Stress Awareness Toolkit.

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Koa Health

The Team @ Koa Health

Our diverse team of developers, researchers, psychologists and behavioral health experts work together to create practical, thought-provoking content to accompany our range of digital therapeutics.