Employee Stress: The Costs and How to Cut Them by RobertWithers


									Stress is an alarming cost pressure. Knowing how to spot it and treat it is invaluable to the health of both your company and your employees. The consequences Stress is estimated to cost U.S. businesses roughly 300 billion annually and is growing. That is almost 2% of GDP derailed to menaces like absenteeism, accidents, turnover, and related healthcare. Forty percent of turnover is stress related. Pop culture has even coined the moniker �mental health day� to describe the 550 million annual sick days that are stress related. An astounding 60% of workplace accidents  leading to Workers Compensation claims are stress related. Consider your own business and how stress could be affecting your income statement. Perhaps you lost some great talent and had to take time to hire and re-train a replacement. How much breakage have you experienced on your production line? Whatever your business, you can probably think of many specific examples of times when workplace stress cost you time and resources. Contributing factors Certain research has shown that workplace stress has increased in line with technological advancements. As the workplace becomes more efficient, the pace increases. Workers, some argue, have more demands than their corporate predecessors. More work is being done at workstations, at desks and on computers. Modern humans are descendants of hunter-gatherers. Our bodies are designed for movement, however many of us can admit that we will spend an entire day seated at our desks. More work and sedentary lifestyles are major causes of the modern day stress epidemic. The following tips should help reduce the effects. Workload Getting organized and learning how to say �No� are easy ways to start in managing your workload. Multitasking can slow you down. Research suggests that multitasking slows the brain and makes us vulnerable to making errors. Errors tend to take more time to correct than had we initially taken ample time to complete the task correctly on the first attempt. Interruptions Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your own office, one where you could tell your assistant to hold your calls and shut the door, shut down Outlook and get some real work done? Unfortunately many of us do not have this luxury. We have to get our work done amid constant distractions and the more than ever means of communication like the phone, email, instant messages, Skype and social media. Peace and quiet to just get some work done probably seem like a dream. There a few easy ways to cut down on interruptions. Only check and answer emails and voicemails at certain times during the day, maybe twice. This tactic was popularized in the well-known book The 4-Hour Workweek. In the June 2011 edition of Inc. magazine, the CEO of a large internet company claimed that he uses this tactic. If an internet professional running a multi-million dollar internet company can stick to checking and answering emails twice per day, then maybe you can too. Work from home arrangements are a great way to reduce inefficiencies of a morning routine, a commute, and wasted time around the workplace water cooler. According the director of Washington State University's telework program, most companies see productivity increases of 10-35% with a telecommute program. There are plenty of documented benefits of going to the office, but one or two days at home per week, if possible, can be a great benefit to both the employee and the company. Communication Reducing workplace stress can be as simple as good management. If you are a manger, be aware that many employees are stressed by breakdowns in communication. Contrary, if you are a stressed worker then ask your manager for more guidance. Not only could it make your life less stressful, but it could also show your eagerness to perform well. Feedback: of course people like to know when they are doing well. They also like to know what expectations are and how to do things better so that they can get a raise or promotion, or simply keep their job. Policies: nothing can be more stressful than unfair treatment. Having clear policies and applying the policies consistently can help workers focus on their jobs. Most people want a work environment that is not confusing. They want things to go smoothly so that they can focus and complete their work timely and with ease. Providing clear guidelines facilitates a smooth operation. Movement Encourage your workers to take breaks. Encourage them to remove themselves from their desks for at least 15 minutes every few hours. Definitely encourage and honor their lunch break. This is a great time for employees to take a walk or take advantage of the in-office or local gym. Any creative way to increase the heart rate at periodic intervals is suggested to counteract the effects of sitting at a desk for eight or more hours a day. Just stepping outside for a for a few minutes can do a great deal of good. A healthy alternative to the �smoke break� is the �water break.� Going outside to enjoy a bottle of water and the outdoors is a great way to reenergize before another few hours of desk work. References: All Business, The True Cost of Stress Stats.org, Counting the Cost of Stress unting the Cost of Stress
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