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FitOn HealthOctober 16

How Employee Fitness Programs Can Help Reduce Stress

There’s a holistic way to help manage and prevent employee stress in today’s fast-paced workplace, but most companies only provide a partial solution. 

Stress has become an epidemic in the American workforce. Excessive or chronic stress among an employee population can lead to negative outcomes like decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and even health problems. These significant consequences not only impact employees, but also their employers.

Luckily, there are a number of things that employers can do to help reduce employee stress. In addition to mental health resources and support, another effective method is to offer employee fitness programs.

Physical activity and fitness are sometimes overlooked but highly effective at working alongside mental health support to boost energy, focus, and overall employee satisfaction.  

When employees are satisfied and engaged in their work, performance improves — and that impacts the company’s bottom line. 

The impact of stress in the workplace

According to the American Psychological Association, 27% of workers report feeling so stressed on most days that they cannot function. This stress can lead to health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. This consistent stress takes a cumulative toll on a workforce, impacting perspective and well-being over time.

Stressed employees are 63% more likely to feel dissatisfied at work and 40% more prone to disengaging from company goals and teams (Gallup). Disengaged workers are also more likely to miss work, quit, and become less productive. 

The costs of unmanaged employee stress are staggering. According to the CDC, workers take around 20 missed work days per year due to stress-related disorders. According to the American Institute of Stress, that translates to over $300 billion lost annually for U.S. businesses due to absenteeism, mistakes, accidents, and diminished output.

As an epidemic impacting a range of employee measures — like, health, engagement, satisfaction, retention, and performance — employee stress poses a dangerous risk to any organization's culture and bottom line. Promoting workforce resilience and well-being through mental and physical wellness programs is essential to create a sustainable, healthy workplace.  

The benefits of managing employee stress

To answer this challenge, wellness must no longer be considered a perk but a strategic imperative. According to Deloitte, 60% of employees, 64% of managers, and 75% of the C-suite are seriously considering quitting their current job for one that would better support their well-being. 

Companies that mitigate the impact of employee stress in the workplace will gain a competitive edge through better workforce stability and stronger leadership. 

Through incremental changes to daily schedules and routines, HR can play a crucial role in cultivating a workplace that values employees' mental and physical health.

5 Ideas for employee fitness programs and managing employee stress

  1. Make it Quick: Implement a “self-care power hour” at the workplace where employees are encouraged to unplug and read, meditate, or do yoga. 
  2. Hold Space: Pick one day per month during a timezone-friendly time to block off time on everyone’s calendars for employee fitness programs. 
  3. Build Accountability: Implement a workout buddy program to hold participants accountable to their physical fitness goals. 
  4. Go Virtual: Offer virtual fitness classes that promote community for in-person and remote workers. 
  5. Find a Benefit Vendor: Provide access to mental health and physical fitness apps, such as Lyra Health or FitOn Health.  

HR is uniquely positioned to help employees improve their health, productivity, and satisfaction by offering these kinds of employee fitness programs and mental health benefits.

Discover more about the organizational challenges associated with employee stress in our ebook, “The Holistic Way to Prevent Employee Stress.” You’ll learn expert tips on how to use physical activity and fitness to create a more comprehensive solution to the problem. 


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