Step Two: Health and Well-Being
Too many companies purchase the health plans they can afford and then hope to maintain costs, without realizing that corporate culture and individual responsibility have a dramatic impact on overall employee health and healthcare costs.
Achieving reductions in healthcare costs without employees’ buy-in is difficult, as many health issues are related to lifestyle. Obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and an inability to manage stress are associated with 50 to 70 percent of all illness and medical problems.
Wellness programs provide structured efforts to improve employee lifestyles, and screenings before the onset of disease enhance health and reduce costs. But less than 5 percent of the $1.8 trillion that Americans spend on healthcare goes toward prevention, and even progressive companies spend 80 times more on cure than prevention.
Corporations have a responsibility to reduce stress, but health packages are affordable and effective only when employees take responsibility for managing their own lives and bodies.
Step Three: Resilience
We can also reduce stress by inducing a positive mental state before or during stressful situations. We can learn techniques to refocus the mind before we succumb to stress, thereby reducing the time and energy needed to reestablish a calm, thoughtful state.
Studies show appreciation-generating techniques can reduce the production of cortisol (the stress hormone), lower blood pressure, improve hormonal balance and increase the body’s production of antibodies that fight pathogens.
Recognizing employee strengths and expressing appreciation are key stress-management components. Coaching and mentoring programs can help companies develop corporate cultures that foster creativity, productivity and optimal performance.
Step Four: Corporate Culture
An overwhelming number of companies are lackluster because they culturally replicate fear-based behaviors, reacting to events rather than driving toward a vision. An atmosphere of judgment and criticism prevails. These companies stifle human potential and behave in ways that lead to mediocre outcomes.
Successful companies are most often led by leaders concerned with the well-being of everyone who works in the organization. Research shows such companies have leaders who are humble, inclusive, inspirational and willing to demonstrate innovative/visionary leadership.
Human behaviors are notoriously difficult to change, but attitude and cultural adjustments are the only ways to differentiate yourself long term. To have a meaningful effect, leaders’ attitudinal changes must precede actual organizational changes, which ultimately herald social and employee shifts from stress behaviors to positive performance.
It takes focus and tenacity to improve corporate culture, instill attitudinal changes in positive thinking and routinely express appreciation. You must find a few actionable principles that truly make a difference and revolutionize workplace culture. You must take specific steps to drive these principles deep into the company, at every level and into every behavior.
This is a tall order, which begins at the top.
The Healthy Road Ahead
Health-optimizing programs are needed to develop physical and psychological resilience.
The proper tools and techniques—relaxation therapies, cognitive therapies to teach optimism, strategies to find positive meaning in fundamental aspects of work—can help individuals reshape internal functioning mechanisms and achieve optimal emotional and psychological states.
Such programs cultivate a positive corporate culture that can save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through stress reduction.
What are your ideas for stress reduction?