The American Psychological Association (APA) released the results of its annual Stress in America survey on January 11, 2012. More than 1,200 adults, aged 18 and older, participated in the survey that was conducted between August 11 and September 6 of last year.
In describing its findings from the survey, APA suggests that America is on the verge of a public health crisis due to stress:
“Participants’ responses have revealed high stress levels, reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress and alarming physical health consequences of stress — a combination that suggests the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis.”
As an employer, it is important to know that 70 percent of survey respondents cited work as one of their top stressors. The survey reveals that people understand the effects that stress can have on their health, but they are not taking adequate steps to prevent stress or manage it well, which causes them to experience symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, and lack of interest or motivation.
Employees who have high levels of stress struggle to perform at their best. For your company, this means less quality work, more errors, decreased morale, poor customer service and increased absenteeism if you decide to ignore the presence of stress in your workplace.
Our December post on stress offered tips on how you can help your employees maintain their stress levels. The tips below offer your employees tactics that they can utilize on their own to manage stress. Share and review the following with your workforce:
Many people experience stress because they regularly work up to their breaking points. Approaching work in that manner causes high anxiety and frequent fatigue, and completed products from this method are generally less than stellar. Avoid this behavior by taking breaks when necessary. Walking away from an overwhelming project for 15 minutes can help you calm down and return to work with a clear mind that is ready to focus.
Lean on Colleagues
Do not be afraid to speak up when your workload is greater than you can handle. Companies who value teamwork are successful, so reach out to you coworker to see if he can spare ten minutes to help you review a document or complete a task. If help from your coworkers does not lighten your load, talk to your manager to see if she can help you create a system or action plan to complete your tasks.
More employers are offering their workforces flexibility around their schedules. With family duties and responsibilities not related to work, life can get stressful trying to balance it all. If you cannot afford a babysitter but need someone to watch your children after school, ask your manager if you can work at home for part of the day. If rush hour traffic lengthens your commute time or guzzles up your gas, ask if you can adjust your start time and end time. Show your appreciation for workplace flexibility by not taking advantage of the system and completing work during your redesigned schedule.
Manage Time Effectively
Fifty-six percent of the survey participants believe that managing their time better will help them manage their stress. Time management is critical when working to complete several projects, but people who are stressed often spend time worrying about how they will finish their work, which leaves them with more frustration and less time to complete their projects. Stop this cycle by creating a list of the tasks that you need to get done. Prioritize the list by importance and deadline, and work hard to cross each item off. You can also break your long list into daily lists and indicate the tasks you wish to complete for each day of the week.
APA’s survey revealed that participants ranked eating well and exercising at the bottom of the list when comparing factors that create a healthy lifestyle. Practicing good nutrition and fitness will immediately cause stress levels to go down. Healthy food provides your body with energy so you can stay alert for eight hours at work. Exercising multiple times per week gives you energy to focus and releases endorphins to help you stay positive. Sleep is also essential for battling stress. Getting at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep will help you recharge and feel refreshed for your next day of work.
According to the Stress in America survey, respondents have consistently listed work as one of their top stressors for the past five years. Be aware that this trend will likely continue for the next five years, so help your employees handle their stress to avoid burn out and achieve success for themselves and the organization. For more strategies on combating employee stress, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.
Photo Source: bengerman