Very important memo to self, staff! – What can WE do to make this a better place to work?
That question is one today’s public- and private-sector employers who genuinely care about their workers are prone to ponder often.
Among the attributes people tend to list for ideal jobs and working environment are a fair wage, good benefits, workplace flexibility – parental leave and respect for the importance of parental duties. Others cited are fairness, good advancement opportunity and trust and respect between management and employees.
One that has become a top priority in recent years is a stress-free work environment.
Survey after survey recently has found job stress is a major concern. Results from a spring 2014 poll by mega job-search website Monster reveals the depth of workers concerns.
Monster found that 42% of U.S. respondents had left jobs because of excessive stress in the workplace. Moreover, the authors stated, “Workplace stress has also caused an additional 35% to consider changing jobs.” Equally significant, only 3% of the more than 6,700 people surveyed said they did not experience stress at their jobs.
Nearly two-thirds of those polled in the Monster survey said they thought job stress had caused them to become ill at some point and 45% said they lost time on the job because of it.
HeartMath Study Shows Intervention Can Help
The HeartMath Institute study Impact of a Workplace Stress Reduction Program on Blood Pressure and Emotional Health in Hypertensive Employees showed even a short intervention program could reduce job stress. The study examined the effects of HeartMath’s Inner Quality Management® program on blood pressure and emotional health in hypertensive employees at a global information technology company.
The results included clinically significant lower blood pressure and improved emotional health. The researchers concluded such interventions could produce a healthier, more productive workforce while reducing company losses from cognitive decline, illness and premature death. (Click here for a PDF version of the study.)
Who’s Stressing You?
“Stress is contagious,” according to the article, which synthesizes findings from two prestigious German research bodies, the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and Clemens Kirschbaum at the Technische Universität Dresden.
“Observing another person in a stressful situation can be enough to make our own bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. … Empathic stress arose primarily when the observer and stressed individual were partners in a couple relationship and the stressful situation could be directly observed through a one-way mirror.”
Beyond the person-person effect of stress, “Even the observation of stressed strangers via video transmission was enough to put some people on red alert. In our stress-ridden society, empathic stress is a phenomenon that should not be ignored by the health-care system,” the article’s authors observed. Learn more about how each individual impacts the social environment, click here.
Stress That Begins at Work Does not Stay at Work
“So what if there’s a lot of stress where I work,” many people tell themselves. “I just can leave it all behind at the end of the day.” Well, not quite.
That Monster survey published in April also found that 84% of the people questioned said their job stress had affected their personal lives. The fact is, don’t expect the frustration, anger and other negative emotions arising from interactions with co-workers, projects gone awry or undesirable working conditions to magically vanish at the end of the workday.
Research shows the effects of excessive stress can continue plaguing you long after it starts – several hours, days or longer. That is, of course, unless you learn to manage it by self-regulating your emotions, either in the moment, later or both. Hundreds of studies, many at the Institute of HeartMath, conducted with thousands of real people also show stress is highly controllable, during and after you experience it – and even before.
It’s a matter of practicing some simple, but highly effective tools such as those developed by HeartMath. These show you how to breathe balance and calm into your body’s systems, and to observe and adjust how you perceive and respond to stressful situations and encounters.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I experiencing too much stress at work? Is it affecting my home/social life?
- What am I doing to control my stress?
Love to hear your comments!