How to help reduce employee stress and improve their physical and mental health

3 April 2024

April is National Stress Awareness Month and a great time to take stock on common stressors in life. It may seem counterintuitive, but some stress is actually good. It motivates us to get things done and can be used as an opportunity to grow, change direction or start over.

Unfortunately, the volume and impact of negative stress are extensive—and costly. 

The mental and physical costs of stress

Negative stressors can impact our mental health and well-being by making us feel impatient with others, numb, unmotivated, and unable to focus or function. They also significantly affect our physical health. 

Stress has been known to increase the risk of:

Chronic stress may also contribute to poor physical health in other ways; for example, bad habits like excessive drinking, smoking and overeating may be used as coping mechanisms for chronic stress. To help your employees avoid negative stress, it’s important to identify the major causes and formulate strategies to either eliminate, lessen or prevent them.

The three biggest causes of stress 

According to the American Psychological Association’s 2023 “Stress in America” survey, health (65%), the economy (64%) and money (63%) were the biggest sources of stress. Money was the most common among all age groups, ranging from 63% of those surveyed aged 45 to 64 up to 82% for those 18 to 34. 

So how can you assist your employees in decreasing top sources of stress?

Helping employees take action to lessen stress

In a world where prices are increasing, people often feel like they don’t have any control. To address this, encourage your employees to search for and take advantage of free resources available to them. You can also share recommendations to help curb costs. 

Becoming more aware of how much is being spent on food and what savings can be found and taking advantage of employer perks and resources to support a healthier lifestyle can all offer some relief and peace of mind.

Cut food spending

Rising food costs are a major source of financial stress for Americans. The Federal Reserve’s target rate for annual Consumer Price Index increases is less than 2%. However, between January 2023 and January 2024, it increased 3.1%. 

Limiting dining at restaurants and takeout, planning meals, and only buying the ingredients needed for meals and snacks can significantly cut food costs. In addition to sharing more obvious strategies with your employees, such as buying generic brands, belonging to a frequent shopper program and shopping for sales, consider sharing these tips to cut food spending:

Eat what you have. Before you eat out, grocery shop or meal plan, see what you already have in your kitchen. There are online tools that allow you to plug in your ingredients and offer recipe suggestions based on what’s in your house. The plus? Making meals based entirely on the ingredients you already have also decreases food waste.

Avoid serving large portions. You can always go back for more if you’re still hungry. This also helps with overeating and managing your weight.

Create a food budget. Research food budgeting online and scan the tips and suggestions for cutting costs. Even using one tip, such as comparing the unit price between similar products (total price divided by servings per package), can help you spend less. Those with food budgets buy less and waste less. You can also download free apps designed to help you save on groceries and offer cash back rewards, such as and Checkout51

Use employee benefits and perks to support healthier habits

Health concerns are high on the top stressors list, especially for seasoned employees. Treating and managing chronic disease costs a lot more than preventive measures. 

  • Get regular preventive care. Regular primary care physician and dental visits, annual biometric screenings and preventive tests that come with most employer-offered health insurance offerings are worth their weight in gold. If you offer a Health Savings Account to your employees, make sure they make the most of it. 
  • Access mental health benefits. The “Stress in America” survey also revealed that many Americans internalize stress rather than talk about it with others. Counseling may be a part of your mental health benefits, so make sure your employees are aware of it.
  • Communicate rewards. Regularly communicate your company’s wellness incentives, stipends, free offerings and discounts. Make sure, if available, your employees know they can earn points or rewards that turn into cash for participating in your company’s wellness program. Other discounts may include services, such as healthy meal kit delivery (another great way to reduce food waste), consumer products and travel discounts.
  • Encourage better physical health. Advertise that your company offers reimbursements on fitness equipment, gym memberships or weight loss programs. 

Need help setting goals for improving your employees’ quality of life? 

Consider working with a Labcorp health and wellness coach to improve your employees’ physical and mental well-being. Now is always the best time to be proactive when it comes to minimizing stressors and improving physical health.