April is National Stress Awareness Month - Got stress in your workplace?
If you said "yes", welcome to a very big club. If you said "no", you are in a small and distinct minority – you should all go out and celebrate!!:-)
Stress at Work Can Kill. That’s a study published in the European Heart Journal, which found that workers who reported high levels of stress had a 68 of all doctor visits involve stress related complaints)
And all that was BEFORE the economy took a nose-dive. In October 2008, the American Psychological Association published a report, Stress in America. The study found that half of those interviewed reported a significant increase in stress due to the economy -- and that women are bearing the brunt of that stress.
If you are an employee in a stressful workplace, you are likely to feel unsatisfied with your job; frequently be tired or lacking in energy; worry and procrastinate; experience more illnesses, headaches, body aches, as well as radical increases or decreases in appetite.
What about customer service? A study by Dr. Chris Pullig found that, ". . . customers served by higher stressed and lower performing personnel, reported lower levels of satisfaction and intent to [not] use the service again."
Wow -- pretty stern stuff. I’m pretty sure that you have a desire to create a healthy, vibrant and comfortable workplace. So how do you bridge that gap? Here are a few steps that can get your business headed in the right direction:
1.Create a strong, company wide intention to reduce stress: this has to come from the top. Your company leadership needs to get behind reducing workplace stress -- and communicate that commitment to all staff.
2.Take ACTION: Then, you must take tangible, effective action steps to really DO something about stress in your workplace. Collect suggestions from everyone about stress and ways you could reduce it. From that, you can create a stress-reduction action plan. Be sure to include priorities -- and dates that you will take those action steps.
3.Notice your excuses: once you have completed steps 1 and 2, the excuses about "why we can not do something about stress", will typically set in. Excuses look something like: "We don’t have time to do that." "I’ve got to get my job done – I can’t take a break." "That costs too much." "This is not really a priority."
4.Overcome your excuses: once you notice your excuses, it’s time to flip into problem solving mode; or the negative impacts of stress will continue at your company. Find a way to take at least some of the action steps on your list.
5.Celebrate your successes: I’m sure you have heard that business maxim – success breeds success. It is true. When you do take action to reduce stress at your workplace, acknowledge and celebrate that success. It will make you more likely to take similar stress relieving actions in the future.