Stress Reduction and Corporate Wellness

Topics: Aging and Costs of Aging, Environmental Health, Hypertension, Wellness and Health

I am getting more calls about managing stress among employees. Thoughts impact physiology in about 1/18th second, so it’s worth preparing for them.

What many companies, now asking employees to do with more with less, don’t know is that stress can be measured, reduced and managed.  And that their health care costs will go down, and their productivity rates will likely go up.

Chronic stress interferes with memory, concentration, judgments and decisionmaking.  It is the most common cause of absenteeism and a prime cause of job turnover. It’s probably the most important benefit of corporate wellness.

And it boosts health costs.  A lot.  But HeartMath has found $1200 per employee per year in correctional officers’ annual cost savings with simple training programs over time.

Stress is a complex emotional and physiological reaction.  It is a natural feeling, one that involves hundreds of biochemical changes which are fatiguing.

Stress can be controlled with practiced actions

  • Communicate clearly (does not mean shouting)
  • Diminish the drama (helps reduce biochemical impact)
  • Practice a positive emotion on purpose: appreciation, care, compassion or gratitude (verbalize or write these, every day)

This looks pretty simple. And it is.

But like eating healthfully, people know what they should do, but don’t usually have the tools or skills to do it.  That’s why teaching tools are essential.

For example, rhythmic breathing can be relaxing.  But it doesn’t neutralize stress over the long term  What does is actively adding a positive feeling like those above.

I’m going to be teaching on-the-job ways to manage stress around the country next year, and I can’t wait. Because effectively managing stress can:
1. Increase resilience  – ability to prepare for, and recoup from challenge
2. Improve blood pressure, depression, asthma
3. Reduce fatigue, burnout, hostility, anxiety, distress and anger.
4. Increase brain clarity, focus, attention span, accuracy and learning ability
5. Improve decision‐making, (reduction of decision fatigue)
6. Improve communication skills
7. Improve work/life balance

This means lower health care costs, better presenteeism (defined as the level of performance on the job), less abseenteeism and improved employee satisfaction.

Learning the tools–in even a single hour, and even better, a single day–may be the ticket to less tired, less worried, less annoyed, less anxious employees.