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The top ten unusual ways entrepreneurs relieved stress in their startups

Written by Varsha Saraogi on Wednesday, 07 November 2018. Posted in Wellbeing, People

With the pressure to meet deadlines and KPIs, your staff’s stress levels are definitely on the rise. So we’ve found some out of the box ways to ease the pressure


The top ten unusual ways entrepreneurs relieved stress in their startups

Starting and growing a business isn’t easy. It involves many sleepless nights and stress-filled days for entrepreneurs and their staff. And sometimes, when mistakes happen, the stress can feel like it’s too much to take. So if you want to run a successful business you better find some great ways to relieve that stress. 

And it’s clear modern day head honchos need to protect their team’s mental wellbeing as today’s workers increasingly risk getting burned out. In fact, 15.4 million working days have been lost this year due to work-related anxiety, according to the Health and Safety Executive, the government wing for employee health. 

So what can you do to ensure your employees perform at the top of their abilities without running the risk of crashing? For starters, head honchos must create an environment that inspires employees to work hard and enjoy their working hours. Of course, the conventional methods of mindfulness, deep breathing and being transparent with your employees are ways used by many but sometimes you need to try other options.

We asked companies who have realised that stress is a thief of productivity and that’ve created creative measures to stamp it out. The result – a more harmonious, high-functioning and happier workplace. 

(1) Rub it in

From back aches to tense shoulder muscles, no one’s going to be shocked to hear that high stress levels have adverse effects on people’s health Hence, a massage can be the best remedy to reduce the cortisol levels from your system. And that’s what Neroli & co, the remote massaging company, does for its employees by offering them a massage every month. “At work it’s a great motivator, especially when you spend all day on the phone or emailing, you need some time out,” said Zanna Maison, managing director at Neroli & co. So if you’re feeling stiff from chasing deadlines, you may feel the need for a kneed. 

(2) Sparring time

A good working environment and a satisfied team are prerequisites to be a successful leader. “Good culture at work is more than just painting the walls in bright colours, providing a half-priced gym membership and yelling about wellbeing,” said Cathy Hayward, managing director of Magenta Associates, the B2B PR firm. “Make sure you regularly stop and think from the outside in, ‘would I want to work here?’” And Hayward definitely acts upon her belief. From cooking classes and adventure trips at Go Ape to wine tasting and weekly Qigong classes, she is going the extra mile when it comes to employee wellbeing.

(3) On a plane to Ibiza

One of the most mainstream ways to release stress is hitting the nightclub and kicking the bottle. However, partying in a different city has its own charm. And Barry Moore, co-founder of Party Hard Travel, the party travel agency, knows that. He takes his employees to Ibiza at the end of every summer to ensure they can have a few days of fun and frivolity. “It’s a thank you and also chance for my staff to let off steam and relax,” he said. Whether you choose this Spanish destination or a luxury spa hotel in Britain, you might be a few plane tickets away from boosting your workers’ performance. Cheers. 

(4) Some serious moves

Sometimes, all you need to relieve stress is a change of scenery. Johnny Warström, CEO at Mentimeter, an interactive presentation platform, has taken this idea to heart by relocating his entire company to a new country for one month per year. This involves temporary a office space, colleagues living with each other and exploring the chosen city. The ritual has been running for three years and Warström told Elite Business it’s the best decision he’s ever made. “Since this initiative started, it has helped foster a stress-free workplace, improved our team-spirit and increased cross-team integration and creativity, while our retention rate has been 100%,” he said. His next destination is Palermo, Italy. We can be sure this globetrotting entrepreneur gets the best out of his team. 

(5) Not horsing around

Where you spend most of your days in the workplace, it ought to be a place designed to your and your employees’ likes. And at Moneypenny, the outsourced communications provider, co-founder Ed Reeves took suggestions from his staff when building the 91,000 square foot headquarters to ensure they can be their most creative selves. Reeves ensures his employees are far from stressed by offering them private movie screenings, visit to the races and even trip to festivals. Unlike many other employers, he definitely prioritises his team more than anything else. “What we believe is simple: if our staff are happy, our clients are happy,” he told Elite  Business. Hear, hear.  

(6) Can’t stop raving about it

Business leaders would rarely think about organising a rave for their staff. But at CharlieHR, an HR company, the founder Rob O'Donovan noticed how his team perked up when he took them to Morning Gloryville, a morning rave. Unlike the conventional rave which might entail intoxicating substances this one “combines dancing, yoga, fresh juices and healthy treats, with fancy dress and normally a lot of glitter.” O'Donovan argued that taking his team there terminated the tension or any negative vibes between colleagues. “That push out of the familiar can be helpful in finding new outlets to ease stress and will certainly do you more favours than having a few drinks to unwind after work,” he said

(7) Punch out

When encountering difficult clients, business magnates can often feel like venting their frustrations. And Daniel Herman, founder of Bio-Synergy, the nutrition company, may have found the perfect way of doing so. He has installed a boxing machine in his office which is frequently used by his employees to relieve stress. “If a staff member was having a bad day, was frustrated or got some bad news, I would order them to hit the bag,” he told Elite Business. “It's like squeezing a stress ball but it actually works. After three punches, if they still had some pent up anger I concluded it must be a pretty serious problem.” Herman claimed the productivity has skyrocketed in his company. A real knockout solution. 

(8) Getting down and dirty

The startup community is known to be innovative when it comes to their employee engagement endeavours. And cancer survivor, Jack Mason, co-founder of Dreamr, the app development company is well aware that better creative expression requires continuous motivation. That’s why he’s taken his team for Tough Mudders, wework summer camps, music festivals and road trips. He even has two office dogs with the designation of head of cuddles and head of wellbeing. This is a true testament of how your staff must be treated as your extended family. 

(9) Sing a song

Music can work wonders when you need to calm down your team. Gianluca Bisceglie, founder of Visyond, the data analysis company, has taken this idea to heart when he launched the company’s Singing Thursdays. “Every Thursday, after working hours, our team and their friends come to the office and sing – we all get to let our hair down and forget about the stresses of the day,”Bisceglie explained. So singing your favourite Spice Girls song even if you don’t have the voice might be a great idea. 

(10) Board games in the boardroom 

There’s nothing wrong with being childish. Take Keith McNiven, founder of personal training company Right Path Fitness, for example. While he has serious boardroom meetings in his company, it’s not about lengthy presentations but rather a board game. A lot can come out over a game of snakes and ladders,” McNiven told Elite Business. And he’s not limited to games indoors. In fact, he gets the team to play sports too. “We’ll get one staff member to nominate their favourite activity from when they were a kid, so maybe bench-ball or basketball, or whatever they like,” he said. So taking your employees to the park not just for a walk but for a match not only reduces stress but increases team bonding. Oh, and being more physically active as a leader could also boost your company’s value too, so win-win for all.

These days most professionals work in stressful environments. So it’s time to introduce some form of stress relief ways. And looking at how business bosses have implemented these unusual ideas, we’re sure that you should make it your top priority too. 

About the Author

Varsha Saraogi

Varsha Saraogi

As junior feature writer and a recent MA Journalism graduate, Varsha has joined the Elite team to fuel her passion. Along with being immersed in the money making sector and ranting about women’s rights, she will be hunting for news about everything business related. And burying her head in economic magazines. Follow her on twitter at @msvarshasaraogi for her mundane musings.

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