We all know that stress is bad and we should all relax more. By not doing this we could face serious health issues. It’s doubtful that anyone would dispute these proven facts; the effect of stress on the human body is well-documented. Workplace stress is prevalent in just about every type of industry, at every level of employment. We all need to learn to relax a bit.

This sounds great, right? Sure… but how can you really achieve this, especially at work? Many causes of stress can’t be helped, like meeting deadlines or avoiding errors. And, what if you’re a small business owner, and are responsible for the quality of your employee’s work environment? How can you help your employees de-stress, and why would you want to make the effort?

There are several reasons you may want to seriously consider helping your employees relieve stress on the job. Having a more relaxed workforce can lead to happier, more productive, and healthier employees – and who wouldn’t want that?

When employees feel good about their job and their environment, they are able to handle certain types of stress better. For example, the fact that many people must work under a deadline, or perform tasks that require a great deal of precision, may not be able to be changed. But if employees feel supported and are able to enjoy a more relaxed environment, those stresses may seem more manageable, mistakes can be reduced, and deadlines don’t seem so daunting.

So how can you help your employees manage on-the-job stress? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Offer opportunities for physical activity

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They say that “sitting is the new smoking” – staying seated at a desk or in front of a computer all day can be very detrimental to one’s health. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity and other negative results like loss of flexibility and even balance. By encouraging your employees to move throughout their day, you allow them time to put aside their tasks and change gears. Encouraging physical movement can stimulate mental acuity and problem-solving, so by allowing them to exercise throughout the day can lead to better productivity. Perhaps an on-site gym can be created. Some companies even provide lunchtime yoga classes for their employees!

2. Allow a flexible schedule when possible

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While it’s often the case that your employees need to be in the office from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, it’s sometimes possible to make exceptions or create opportunities for more creative scheduling. Can you allow some employees to work from home one day a week? Or let some people have staggered shifts, or work around their home and family schedules? Letting people have some control over their own work schedule can be empowering and encourage them to take more ownership. Feeling in control can help reduce stress.

3. Educate your employees

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Helping your employees to be more knowledgeable about their own health and wellbeing creates an environment of awareness and prevention. Can you bring in a nutritionist to speak to your staff for a healthy lunch & learn session? Or how about sponsoring an on-site health fair? Giving your employees the tools to take control over their own health allows them to make better decisions, as well as get and stay healthy.

4. Provide a place to relax

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Being able to walk away from a stressful project or task for a few minutes can really help reduce stress, as well as help workers recharge their batteries, so to speak.

Is it possible for you take a small space in your office and create an area for your employees to relax in? Setting up a comfortable couch or chair in a quiet spot with some different décor can go a long way towards helping people unwind in a healthy way.

While there are practically an unlimited number of things you could come up with to help your employees reduce stress in their work lives, you won’t be able to eliminate that stress altogether.

Job-related mistakes and mishaps can still occur, so it’s wise to protect yourself and your business by making sure you have good health insurance coverage for your employees, as well as adequate business insurance coverage. This way, you’re protected should something unfortunate occur.

But, de-stressing never hurts! And it can even be fun – and ultimately better for your business.

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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