To Produce Your Best, Alleviate Stress
The New Year is here, and 2010 already feels like it is in full swing. January is the month of resolutions and commitments. Individual resolutions range from losing weight to quitting smoking, but what do businesses resolve? Businesses are not immune to the need to create resolutions that will improve their companies and employees.
A myriad of resolutions lie waiting for businesses to implement, yet one seems to make more sense than the rest, stress. Work-related stress is teeming within the majority of employees today, yet those suffering from it generally will not complain until their mental or physical health begins to suffer.
Stress is linked to the five leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. Despite the harsh reality of the effects of stress, most people dismiss work-related stress as a necessary evil, but it doesn't have to be. Businesses have the opportunity to educate, assess and resolve stress-related issues in order to create a more productive environment.
A workplace infected with stress can lead to an increase in the likelihood or severity of physical and psychological illnesses, increased absenteeism, an increase in the frequency of accidents, reduced morale, increased staff turnover, and reduced productivity.
According to the American Psychological Association, 62 percent of Americans say work has a significant impact on their stress levels. That means over half of the working population is prone to develop physical and psychological conditions because of their experiences in the workplace. These illnesses may seem like daily annoyances, when in reality they could be signaling diminishing health of an individual.
Physical illnesses and injuries associated with stress include heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and gastrointestinal disturbances. The psychological effects from stress include sleep problems, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.
Think of the worker who is so stressed that they are exhausted at work because they can't fall asleep. Or the worker who begins having chest pains or heart burn each time a new assignment is piled onto their desk.
These are not merely signs of minor anxiety; these are symptoms of work-related stress overload that can seriously harm employees if they are not resolved. Businesses have the opportunity to relieve stress, and it is in their best interest to do so.
Increased absenteeism is yet another harmful side effect of work-related stress. How people cope with stress varies, but everyone has limitations to what they are willing to withstand. Reaching those limitations can result in simply skipping or taking time off from work to avoid the stress altogether.
Consider the employee who calls in sick, yet sounds perfectly healthy on the phone. This may be beneficial for the individual's health, but it is not in the best interest of business.
Companies need their employees present in order to be productive. Eliminating work-related stress will ensure that employees are present at their jobs, and do not feel the need to escape from work to regain health.
When employees are stressed, accidents happen. The physiological consequences of stress mentioned previously contribute to the increase in frequency of accidents. If a worker is too stressed to sleep at night, they will be tired and sloppy on the job. Lack of energy can result in details being overlooked, and in some situations this can put the entire workforce in danger.
If a crane operator is too stressed and exhausted from working long hours, it is not in anyone's best interest to have him operating heavy machinery. Regardless of the type or size of accident, they are unacceptable in the work place. Businesses should construct a plan or policy to ensure that their employees are healthy and safe while on the job or while in a work-related setting.
Work-related stress weakens morale. Workers have already struggled to stay afloat amid the recession, and those who made it suffered from lowered morale when friends and colleagues were left unemployed or when production was projected to increase despite smaller staffing.
When stress is added to an already shrinking morale, it only gets worse. Lowered morale will increase employee turnover and reduce productivity. Businesses should keep in mind that morale is salvageable when companies make an effort to consider their employees.
In summation, work-related stress causes a number of health and professional problems, but most importantly these all factor into one common result: loss of productivity.
A drop in productivity is not beneficial for businesses or for employees, but it can be avoided. Businesses should make the resolution to educate themselves on what causes their workers the most stress, and then find ways to address that problem. Remedies can range from implementing additional break time throughout the day to restructuring teams to evenly distribute the workload.
This year is full of promise. A happy employee will produce twice as much as a stressed employee. Businesses should take the opportunity to maximize their potential for success by alleviating work-related stress from their employees.
Modern business should not concern itself primarily with how much is produced, but how production can improve. Reducing work-related stress will improve the health and wellness of employees as well as the way business is conducted.
by: Jim SirbaskuAbout the Author:Jim Sirbasku is co-founder and CEO of Profiles International, a leading provider of human resource management solutions and employment assessments for businesses worldwide.