Work is a common source of unhappiness and stress. Studies have concluded that the number of burned-out, stressed-out or chronically stressed individuals is between one-fourth and one-third of the work force.
Leaders and workers must be fully present and engaged at work, in a state of health and well-being. Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than any other factor in people’s lives, even financial or family troubles.
While they may fail to realize the health implications, people at work are acutely aware of stress. A Northwestern National Life survey shows 40 percent of workers report their jobs are very or extremely stressful, and 25 percent of employees view their jobs as the top stressor in their lives.
Stress happens when:
- We fail to meet deadlines, budgets or other goals.
- We have ambiguous job responsibilities.
- We perceive a lack of control over tasks.
- We have a sudden upsurge in tasks.
- We have conflicts with others.
- We feel we have little control over our work lives
The Costs of Stress
Stress depletes our physical, emotional and mental resources, which ultimately reduces companies’ productivity and profits.
Healthcare costs for stressed workers are 46 percent higher. Total stress-related business costs (disability, death, insurance, medical expenses, accidents, loss of employees, sick leave and reduced/lost productivity) total between $250 billion and $300 billion annually in the United States.
When we are asked to sustain too great a load for too long a time, there’s an undeniable detrimental outcome. Executives and leaders are particularly at risk for putting themselves in highly charged environments, where expectations of surviving successfully are high and there are few timeouts for recuperation.
Saving Ourselves from Stress
There are four paths to counteracting stress and disease at work: two personal and two organizational, according to research in the book What Happy Companies Know, by Baker, Greenberg and Hemingway.
An individual’s or organization’s failure to take responsibility can quickly destroy a team. The organization must refrain from imposing unreasonable productivity requirements, and individuals must recognize their limits—a difficult prospect for high achievers.
A company can reduce stress by changing its corporate culture, including increased awareness of the value of appreciation and positive emotions.
Step One: Personal Mastery
Personal mastery of stress begins by recognizing that it’s a palpable force in the workplace—one for which we must proactively prepare. Of course, a certain amount of stress is the norm in business, but recognizing its signs and symptoms is essential for diminishing and controlling detrimental reactions.
Accepting a degree of chaos becomes part of the challenge. Instead of looking at change and uncertainty as a series of calamities, we can reframe these situations as exhilarating experiences that provide opportunities.
How do you cope with stress on the job??
Please Tune in to the next blog post in the Business Stress series to gain additional tips on personal stress mastery…