There’s a collective awakening happening in corporate America, and it’s being driven by the growing awareness of two things: the devastating and far-reaching health impacts of workplace stress, and the high financial cost to companies as a result.
While my next blog, “3 Trends in Reducing Stress at Work” will detail trendy intervention strategies that are on the rise, the big-picture subject of “workplace wellness” is in itself a trend, and one that’s long overdue.
In fact, a 2014 article by Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor of Fortune Magazine titled “The New Trend? Reducing Stress in the Workplace—By Order of Management” pretty much nails it.
Workplace Weariness and Stress at Work
Work is the number one cause of stress in the US, and employers are now spending more than ever before on workplace wellness programs. Why now? For one thing, we live in a competitive, fast-changing 24/7 world with little to no certainty of job security. As Geoff Colvin puts it, “As work becomes increasingly cognitive, fast-changing, and uncertain, we’re wearing people out in new ways.” Joe Sweet, an executive at the Cleveland Wellness Clinic confirms, “The workforce is experiencing increased stress, anxiety, and depression at all levels. Nobody is immune to the rapid technology advances, and all feel the pressure to stay ahead of them or lose.”
Let’s consider the “why” companies should reduce stress at work.
Although these points may seem like no-brainers to many of us, the deeper ramifications of these understandings are still being realized by employers who are now waking up to the value of healthy and happy staff.
- Financial Bottom Line – Overly stressed and exhausted employees hurt the bottom line of any organization. The cost of unscheduled absenteeism, employee turn-over, low productivity and poor morale all equate to thousands of dollars per year per employee.
- Productivity – Happier staff are more engaged, productive, loyal and supportive of the company they work for. Productivity will naturally increase from staff who feel appreciated, supported, and are able to have more balanced work-life schedules.
- Reputation and Brand Management – If a company is perceived as the source of employee’s stress that impacts their life in harmful ways, guess what? Everyone will know about it, thanks to employee review sites and social media. No organization is immune any longer to the effects of viral complaints by disgruntled former employees, which can damage the company’s image and reduce their ability to attract new talent.
- Happier employees equals happier management. Think about it; with lowered stress levels, everyone wins. A collaborative and creative work environment naturally results when management and staff work together with less tension and raging cortisol levels. With more relaxed and empowered employees, less conflict arises and working relationships are strengthened rather than diminished.
Factoring in the “Why”
Too many of us spend the majority of our lives at work, and often the workplace becomes our second home, for better or for worse. I recommend to keep your “why” in mind as you strive to reduce stress at work.
What changes will you commit to and make in your organization to reduce the stress at work?