Back

8 Ways to Help Employees Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday January 12, 2021

Canadians everywhere are more stressed, anxious, and depressed than ever before. Even before COVID-19 and its potential mental health impacts, Canadians were struggling with their mental health during what has been referred to as a mental health crisis.

In these trying times, Canadian employers have an opportunity, and quite frankly a duty, to support employees’ mental health.

Employers and Employee Mental Health

Canadian employers have more skin in the game than they may realize. Employee mental health has a demonstrated negative impact on an employer’s bottom line. Furthermore, 45% of Canadians indicate that work is their greatest cause of stress.

Employers can solve two problems at once by supporting employee’s mental health and aiming to create a reduced-stress workplace. Here’s how:

#1. Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a benefit that supports employees through difficult challenges. An EAP acts as a resource for employees working through tough times. It can refer them to applicable resources and support to address a variety of issues, including:

The support of an EAP can go a long way to improving employee mental health and reduce stress in the workplace and at home. We’ve already seen a rise in EAP uptake as employers across the country attempt to get ahead of the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the mental health crisis.

[Report] COVID-19 and the Growth of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)s

#2. Provide Vacation and Personal Time Off

Vacation time is important for an employee’s overall mental health and provides a much-needed break from work. Likewise, personal time off (PTO) is another important factor in relieving the mental burden of trying to schedule appointments and day-to-day tasks around work.

Although 92% of those working full time believe vacation is important, 43% say that they don’t take their full vacation allotment each year. The key to effectively reducing employee’s stress through these options isn’t just to offer them, it is to actively encourage them to take it

At BBD, we offer a vacation incentive program for employees who use their full allotment to great effect!

How Encouraging Vacation is Good for Business

#3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Poor or inconsistent communication often leads to confusion, errors, and inevitably, stress for employees and employers both.

When employees don’t feel informed about your company’s new product launches and sales initiatives, or changes in the industry regulations they need to abide by, the feeling of being overwhelmed may follow. To create a reduced-stress environment, ensure that you’re making all the information available in a clear way and that employees know where to find it.

Likewise, employees need to be able to communicate effectively with their peers and managers, too — that’s what leads to a happy, productive workplace! Employees need to be made to feel comfortable and encouraged to communicate workplace stresses, workloads, or just the day-to-day operations of their position to avoid burnout. 

#4. Support and Promote Employees’ Hobbies

Employees with hobbies are happier, more productive, and more engaged in their work, so finding ways to encourage employees’ interests can only make your business better. What’s more, research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression.

Supporting employees’ hobbies doesn’t mean you need to build a rock-climbing wall in your lobby or have a section of the break room devoted to knitting. Rather, finding ways to encourage creativity at work and for employees to pursue interests can spark new passion and reduce stress.

You can also consider implementing a Personal Spending Account (PSA), which can be used to pay for the pursuit of all kinds of health and wellness items, including hobbies. It’s a great way to show support for employees and provide an avenue for them to pursue their interests!

Promoting Employees’ Hobbies Makes Your Business Better

#5. Encourage Goal Setting

Employees who feel fulfilled and who are actively striving towards a goal will feel more involved and satisfied with their work. This particularly true when they achieve those goals

Employers get better performing, more knowledgeable employees, and some tangible results. Meanwhile employees learn valuable skills to improve themselves, get a boost of achievement, and continue to grow in their roles.

#6. Ensure Adequate Staffing and/or Workloads

No surprises here — overworked staff members are stressed staff members. As businesses grow and employees’ responsibilities grow with them, so will their workload. Reduce stress for employees by communicating with managers and their employees to ensure workloads remain sustainable and re-distribute workloads as needed.

Bonus: Staff doesn’t have to be limited to humans — office dogs are not only a great de-stressor, but a productivity booster themselves.

#7. Encourage Microbreaks

Microbreaks are proven to boost productivity, focus, and overall wellbeing. Chances are your employees are already pretty good at microbreaks — water cooler chats, grabbing more coffee, catching up with a coworker about their weekend. The trick here is not to treat that as “wasted time” but instead only as what it is: a productivity booster. 


Microbreaks are also good on a physical level, as sitting at a desk without getting up can be detrimental to your health. In times of COVID-19 and social distancing, many employees may be working from home, making these microbreaks harder to take naturally, so a reminder from their employer may be just what the doctor ordered!

#8. Promote a Stress-Free Work Station

An employee’s work environment is incredibly important to reduce stress. After all, it’s where they spend several hours a day.

Consider encouraging employees to get creative with their workspaces, including:

Encouraging employees’ creativity and hobbies will always do good things for your business.

Want more ideas for reducing stress and increasing health and wellness in your workplace? Check out our Health and Wellness Calendar!

Download the Health and Wellness Calendar (PDF: 903 KB)