Bosses looking to lower stress levels in the workplace need not splash out on expensive mindfulness classes or office overhauls, as workers say it is the simple, inexpensive measures that help the most.

A study of 1,011 UK adults in full or part-time employment, conducted by Cascade HR, explored what workers feel bosses can do to reduce their stress levels, and found that introducing flexible working hours (47%), early finishes on Fridays (39%) and a caring, friendly management style (38%) would have the biggest impact.

Recognising hard work with tangible rewards was also effective, with more than 1 in 3 (35%) saying financial rewards such as cash bonuses, and 34% stating holidays in lieu, would achieve this.

28% of British workers said more relaxed management would reduce their stress levels.

Oliver Shaw, CEO at Cascade HR, said: “It is interesting to see that the measures that employers can take which have the most significant impact on reducing workplace stress are actually relatively achievable and inexpensive.

“Fancy water features and expensive mindfulness classes might be fashionable – but clearly, looking at the results of this research, it’s the simple things that employers should be considering first.”

The research also revealed the physical aspects of the workplace which employees believe employers could change or introduce to improve their occupational mental health.

The workplace being clean and tidy was the factor that workers felt could go the furthest to reducing their stress (35%), while almost 1 in 3 felt having music playing would help to keep their stress at bay. Simply having a space away from desks in which to chill out (29%) or to eat (27%) during breaks would also aid many.

Shaw added: “Judging by this, British employers looking to create a calmer, less stressful environment for workers don’t need to invest in dramatic overhauls of the office environment. British employees are quite content with simple environmental enhancements – whether it’s music playing in the office or simply putting some chairs and perhaps some plants or a screen, to create a quiet, separate space within the office for relaxing during break times.”

Cascade is an award-winning provider of fully integrated HR software and HMRC recognised payroll software, suitable for organisations of any size.

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