Work-Related Stress at an All-Time High
October 16, 2011
The average American spends 1,778 hours at work each year; the average Brit 1,647. For many, a lot of that time is spent in a pool of stress.
Workplace wellness goes beyond OSHA directives. It’s not just about safety, but also about a feeling of engagement, centeredness and motivation. Yet stress-related absenteeism is at an all-time high, according to a recent study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development. In the UK stress is now, in fact, the number one reason for long-term absenteeism from work.
What is stress? Not all of it is bad. In fact, good stress keeps us feeling alive, But what I’m talking about here is the negative stress that keeps you up at night. And it has increased in recent years.
According to a recent Gallup poll as reported in Manufacturing Weekly, 34% of those surveyed pointed to general job-related stress as the thing they despised most about their current position, as compared to only 28% in 2008. At the same time, and in true American style, only one in five complained about the amount of vacation time they had.
In light of these statistics, wouldn’t it make sense for employers to recognize this trend and do something about it?
One such company that sees the preventative value of stress-reduction is GovernmentAuctions.org, a Web site that compiles and provides information about government auctions of seized and surplus merchandise from all over the country. According to CEO Ian Aronovich, they do a number of things to relieve stress such as Thursday six-pack lunches (yes, beer!), a year-round membership to a gym within walking distance from the office, an in-house inflatable punching bag to release any extra aggression while at work, a chin/pull-up bar to show off physical prowess (and give the brain a rest) as well as casual dress and music during work hours. Sounds like a hip place that recognizes the importance of letting off steam.
Debi Goldben, a former child welfare worker in Illinois, used to enjoy a meditation room with a reclining chair, a CD player and candles, which the executive director personally organized. Inspired by this benefit, she is now transitioning to become a holistic life coach to encourage mind-body-spirit integration, regardless of where people work.
According to Workforce magazine, the California branch of Blue Shield, a leading US insurance company, realized many of its workers were snacking on unhealthy foods and that 65% were actually overweight. In an effort they termed “Wellvolution”, the company replaced vending machine fare to reflect its commitment to employee health.
Savvy companies look at their workers as whole people rather than coin-operated machines. It’s not a waste of time. It’s simply smart business.
It doesn’t take much to regain our internal alignment, but it does move beyond just acquiring certain time management skills. through online time management games or training. Healthy food choices, moments of relaxation and enough time to breathe for proper mind-body-spirit integration are great ways to embrace the power of slow while spending those 1700 odd hours at your workplace.
What does your company do to keep you in alignment? Paying you is one thing. Paying attention to what you need to stay productive is entirely another.
- Stress Test: Why We Need Wellness More than Ever (psychologytoday.com)