On Saturday the 23rd of July Lifeline Australia will celebrate Stress Down Day. A day to raise awareness for stress in the workplace and raise funds for Lifeline. According to their website, 90% of Australians feel stressed and 74% feel stressed directly from work. This is a major issue for companies as stress is the major contributor of burn out and poor employee wellbeing. Both of these elements lead to lower productivity and higher turnover, which ultimately hurts companies. Stress Down Day offers the perfect opportunity for companies to get ahead of these problems by giving employees a day to focus on relaxation. In the past we’ve talked about long-term solutions and changes to help employees deal with company stress. In this article we want to focus on short work-friendly activities you can undertake with employees this Friday, just before Stress Down Day officially begins. Some of these ideas are taken directly from Lifeline, while others are a bit more out of the box.
If you would like to learn more about Stress Down Day or how to donate to Lifeline Australia, please see their website here.
Host an “out of uniform” day
Move over standard casual Friday, this coming Friday offices are going above and beyond casual. Lifeline suggests hosting an out of uniform day which promotes optimum comfort. Allowing employees to come to work in their PJs, slippers, and robes. It’s more than casual, it’s about comfort.
Organise a Yoga or Meditation class
Here’s a classic company activity to have employees destress and unwind. This will only take up a chunk of an employees morning, so it won’t seriously impact their overall workload. This is a good option if you have busy employees, who might not feel great about sacrificing a big chunk of their day to unwind. Hosting a Yoga or Meditation class helps employees destress before hopping back into their work. Best of all, these services are easy to organise and are hands-off for management. Plenty of companies (such as Headspace and HSG) offer solutions for meditation and yoga in the workplace. You can schedule a professional to come in and lead the work group through a carefully curated session as a once off. Additionally, you can go a step further and try and transform mediation and yoga into a regular occurrence.
Be careful about when you pick your time. Morning sessions will give employees a truly relaxing start to their day but might cause them a slow start. Hosting one at lunch time sounds like a good idea, but will likely demotivate employees from attending. Many employees will enjoy a meditation or yoga session on it’s own but not instead of lunch. If you push it too far back in the workday, employees may wish that they could just go home early instead. We recommend extending the lunch break and kicking it off with a session of relaxation.
Host a morning tea
Nothing like a few baked goods to get employees in a good mood. A workplace morning tea is a great way to let employees unwind. Enjoy workplace chatter with some scones, sandwiches, and coffee. The better the food — the more effective the destressing. If you’re looking for ideas on what you should offer at your next workplace morning tea we recommend taking a look at this recipe board. Some of our favourite classical goods include scones, blinis, and cupcakes. If you’re looking for something special, the board also shares recipes for apple pie cupcakes, milo balls and passionfruit slice. Offering up really good food at the start of the day is sure to put employees into a good mood. Trying these new recipes could be what makes it a morning tea to remember.
Host a BBQ lunch
Not feeling the morning tea? Try hosting a BBQ. Joking around with a couple co-workers while chowing down at a sausage sizzle is a great way to destress. If you’re company has access to a BBQ then this one comes highly recommended. It’s a more simple and cost-effective solution than an elaborate morning tea, but just as much fun.
Organise to pet a pup
Missed out on bring your dog to work day last month? Don’t sweat it, here’s your second chance. Dogs have been shown to reduce stress levels in a range of individuals. Consider reaching out to your local shelter or animal rescue team to organise a few friendly pups. Have employees take some time out of their day to come say hi to their new furry friends. Just petting and engaging with dogs can help employees relax and unwind.
Alternatively, you can have employees bring in their own pets or dogs. Though this must be managed with caution. Depending on the office and employees, this one may be more trouble than its worth. Make sure you’re being cautious and aware of employees allergies when organising these activities.
Organise a team walk or sport
Exercise has shown to have a direct correlation with reducing job burn out. Taking part in physical exercise makes you happier, healthier, and less stressed. Organise a time for you and your employees to exercise together. This can be something as simple as a walk around or a run. On the other hand, you can make it as complex as you want. Maybe you let employees take the day off on Friday for a day of competitive festivities. Split employees into teams and engage in a game of tennis, netball, basketball, or anything else your employees will love. Consider renting out a court to play in and getting away from the office entirely. If not, a park or wide public space will work just fine as well.
Do something creative
Creative activities are a great way to get employees to destress and focus on something new. A creative activity can be something as easy as colouring books to something as advanced as painting. We’ve talked about the benefits of a paint n sip before on the CiVS blog and we think it works great for Stress Down Day as well. Paint n sips are easy to organise and can be set up in an office space by an external company. On the other hand, many restaurants and establishments also offer paint n sips if you would like to take things out of the office.
If you’re going to try and organise something in the office space, something easy can be done. Drawing or colouring in may sound childish but they’re great for stress relief. A simple activity such as colouring in has been shown to relax the part of your brain responsible for fear, the amygdala. It induces the same state as meditation or yoga. An activity such as this also makes a great pairing for a morning tea. Consider combining the two to offer a super relaxing activity to help your employees unwind.
Take things online for the day
For Stress Down Day consider moving things online. Working from home provides a level of flexibility and comfort that the office can’t always match. Let employees join in on calls from the comfort of their couches, with PJ pants still on and their own cup of coffee. Allowing a relaxed work at home day can help employees to unwind. They will also find that they have more flexibility when it comes to completing at-home-chores which may have been potentially building up. This solution is especially prevalent for those employees with families. Working from home can help employees feel reconnected with their loved ones. The love and support of a partner or child around can help take the edge off during a stressful workday.
Are you aware of your companies stress levels?
Stress Down Day wants to do more than just be a day to relax. A large part of it is about reflecting and recognising the stress that builds in a work environment. Don’t let this day go by without taking a lesson from it. Take some time to reflect on the situation in your company. If you’re feeling uncertain about how your employees are feeling, or find them hard to read, try a company survey. An employee wellbeing survey can help you stay ahead of low employee retention, productivity and burn out. Don’t sit around waiting for things to become a problem, get ahead while you can. With a CiVS employee survey you can gain valuable insights into what you’re employees are thinking. As we are an independent third party, employees can feel safe in their responses. They won’t have to worry about a lack of anonymity or being reprimanded for their true thoughts.
If this interests you, contact the CiVS team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (08) 6314 0580.