Being a case manager is stressful work. The hours are long. The caseloads are heavy. Budgets are tight. And you are often dealing with people facing some of the worst moments of their lives. We have discussed in previous posts different ways that social workers can achieve case manager stress relief. In this post we look at some organizational tactics to reduce stress for your case managers.
Working Towards Workplace Wellness
One way to create case manager stress relief is to create a healthy work environment. Finding ways to promote exercise and healthy living at work are two ways to make your case managers feel better overall – which leads to feeling less stress.
You can provide exercise areas or encourage breaks to get everybody up and moving. It could be as simple as a group walk or creating contests among those who wear fitness trackers to see who can get the most steps in a week. Or you can create more organized wellness programs, like group yoga sessions with an instructor you bring in on a weekly basis. However you get them doing it, exercise helps your caseworkers free their minds momentarily from the issues they're dealing with. Also, the release of endorphins during an exercise session works to improve their moods.
Another way for your organization to promote workplace wellness is to provide healthy snacks or lunch breaks. This could be accomplished by keeping a fruit bowl stocked in the break room or loading up the refrigerator with yogurt and healthy drinks. You can take this to a higher level and bring in a chef once a month to provide a tasty but healthy alternative for lunch.
The Working Environment
There are changes you can make both physically and psychologically to the working environment to reduce stress for your case managers. Simple things like better coffee, brighter natural lighting, happy, bright paint colors, the configuration of desks or cubes all can create a happier workplace.
Adding items that encourage taking a break and taking their minds off their workload can help, too. This could be games in the break room, a ping pong or foosball table or even a couple arcade games or a virtual reality setup. It's true that case managers may not have a lot of time for breaks but getting them to make the most of the breaks they get can ease stress levels significantly.
Creating stress relief psychologically within your workplace is mostly a matter of being flexible. Social workers put in a lot of hours and sometimes need to work outside of the office. Giving them the opportunity to work flexible hours and remotely can remove some of the stress from their daily lives. Of course, to work remotely you need to have a secure system that allows them to log into their case management software on their laptop or mobile device. As long as you have a secure system that’s HIPAA compliant, like the ones we provide, this should be easy and seamless.
Provide Support Where You Can
Case managers spend a lot of their time counseling others. They experience things on the job that not many other professionals have to deal with. A recent study showed that almost half of the workers surveyed said they felt they needed help learning how to cope with stress on the job. Many companies have started to offer counseling for their employees, either individually or in group settings. These are general population workers, not social workers. The percentage of those needing help coping would probably be even higher among case managers.
Even if you don’t provide counseling, creating a time every week or even once a month for case managers to get together and talk over what they’re going through could provide some stress relief. It doesn’t have to be a physical coming together either. You can create a private group online for them to chat and share their stories and stressors, helping each other with suggestions of what has worked for them.
What Has Worked for You?
These are just a few ways your organization can provide some case manager stress relief for your workers. Feel free to share what has worked in your workplace. We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or drop us a line. We’ll be happy to share the tips we get in a future post.