Are you aware that employers win the most from stress reduction?

Are you aware that employers win the most from stress reduction?How to remove stress and burnout risk?
28.04.2021

We have published several blogs and articles that open up the signs of stress and shine a light on the burnout symptoms and early warning signs of burnout.

Still, we see that skills for coping with stress and occupational burnout are low. So, let us take a look at human resource development and leadership/management viewpoint and put work related stress and employees who are burnt out at work into the context of what you need to change in human resources training to have a mentally fit and productive team at the same time.

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK reported that “In 2019/20 there were an estimated 828,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This represents 2,440 per 100,000 workers and results in an estimated 17.9 million working days lost." According to HSE 2019/20 work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 55% of all days lost due to work-related ill-health.

In April 2021 the data from the absence management platform e-days, revealed that "when comparing pre-pandemic levels in March 2019 to March 2021, the number of stress sickness days recorded has increased by 113%." And that was not all as the average number of people taking stress-related leave had increased by 74% when comparing Q1 2021 to Q1 2019.

How high is stress among HR professionals?

This absence data from 1,500 employers, collected and examined by e-days, revealed that HR and staffing professionals had become the sector with the third-highest rate of stress-related sick leave and there was a 70% rise in the number of stress-related absences among HR professionals in 2020 compared to the previous year. It shows that those who should take care of teams, often lack the awareness to notice what stress them and how to take care of themselves. 

We contact plenty of HR's and comprehend that most of them lack time to look into what we offer. Many are overloaded and trying to navigate on the stormy sea that the pandemic and ongoing economic turmoil bought along. Most are caught in between furlough schemes, their employee's fear of losing a job, turnover expectations, and keeping it all together for their own families. Being in the unhealthy rat race without breaks is what causes the problems in the first place. Not only employees but even HR's and leaders think that they cannot afford to take time off until they are forced to do so by becoming unhealthy.

What e-days also pointed out was that "The number of people taking stress-related leave in 2020 and 2021 has remained the same, but the increase in days taken demonstrates that stress is taking longer to recover from and must be taken more seriously by employers." This proves it, while feeling bad, we push the limit until we fall seriously ill. It should not be this way.

How many employees feel that your stress is their problem?

You may remember that we wrote back in 2020 about the Cigna Report, which clearly stated: “91% agree that colleagues’ stress impacts the workplace with a higher degree of negative impacts such as a depressing atmosphere and lowering morale, and yet employers are not doing enough to address the issue.”

The only thing that has changed since the very early days of 2020 is that now many of us work remotely or from home and we cannot anymore say that stress is a workplace problem only. It is clearly is much more than that. Stress is a problem that follows people without intrapersonal skills to absolutely everywhere.
 

91% agree that colleagues’ stress impacts the workplace with a higher degree of negative impacts

How to use intrapersonal skills for stress management?

Looking at the statistics, it becomes obvious that the situation is bad and unfortunately keeps heading for the more detrimental. The data clearly shows that the stress problem is not going to fade away.

Today the most relevant stress management related questions are: 

  1. Who should take action to reduce stress?
  2. What is the best action to take?

To run a bit ahead of the story, you as a team leader or HR need to take action as there is no one else. The best action to take is to start reducing stress and preventing burnout as it is the best human resource development method for keeping your team healthy and productive at the same time. But let's go back to basics.

What is stress? 

As Dr. Helena Lass wrote, "Stress can be defined as the adverse inner reaction that people experience when they come into contact with excessive pressures that they fail to handle." In this context, the external conditions are less important than our own automatic inner reactivity.

As we wrote in our last blog post, no stress trigger around us matters if we would have no automatic inner reactivity and instead responded adequately.

What does stress cause?

Stress reduces productivity. According to Headspace 2020, Mental Health Trends Report, 21% of workers lost up to two hours of work time a day because of stress. That should be alarming as it is more than a full day during any workweek that people lose over stress.

The same report also stated that only 12% of workers think their employer has a holistic mental health program. No wonder that stress reduction and mental wellness at work do not get as much attention as needed. From the economic viewpoint, many workplaces still do not understand that a stressed person easily becomes a liability instead of being the most valuable asset.

What are the negative effects of stress?

Stress is the major pathway to health issues and employee burnout, which again has a 86-92% overlap with depression. We often are not aware that unrelieved chronic stress starts a slow downward spiral that leads both to physical and mental health issues. 

MetLife has pointed out that 30% of employees say they “feel burned out” at work, but 64% of employees report feeling at least five of the signs of burnout as defined by the World Health Organization. Burnout doesn't happen out of the blue, it tells that the work stress management has been missing.

While stress and burnout are not mental illnesses, both can easily escalate into mental health problems without intrapersonal education. Stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression can also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal illnesses, obesity, muscle tensions, bad skin conditions, sleeplessness, etc. Our mental health and our physical fitness are more interconnected than we are currently aware of. 

When you lose your mental wellness, you will become open to various health problems. So, learning intrapersonal skills helps us to stay well and avoid all kinds of health problems. Thus sharing intrapersonal education is a win-win deal for employers and employees. The employers secure productivity and the employees can stay healthy and engaged in what they do for a living.
 

From the employer standpoint, stress and burnout influence the health and performance of staff


How is seen from an employer's standpoint?

When we look at it from an employer’s standpoint, stress and burnout heavily influence the health and performance of staff as both lead to absenteeism and sick leaves, reduce productivity and work engagement, and drive quality and interpersonal problems. 

Stress often initiates the fight or flight response, a complex reaction of neurologic and endocrinologic systems. When people fight (internally or between themselves) or run away (leave the workplace), then they fail to face the actual situation in the present moment. That causes mental health issues, toxic relations as well as losses for employers. Also, replacing the professionals who left takes time and effort and is often costly.

But the situation is even worse now, as, during the pandemic, we had nowhere to run. We were stuck where we were. So, it is no wonder that the numbers show that the stress problem is bigger than ever before. In that sense ROI from addressing stress early on enables us to see mental wellness as an investment, if we try to find something positive amid a very worrying overall situation.

Jonny Jacobs, the Finance Director EMEA, Starbucks said it well:

 “9:1 could be the return on investment in association with mental health. As a CFO you don’t see that very often.”

However, ROI even up to 10,2:1 from mental wellness investments is there when you take the proactive approach early on. Such ROI is not possible with the currently dominating reactive mental health approaches only.

Now let us point out another interesting aspect of HR management, it involves the consequences of stress for your workplace from the leader's viewpoint. For this, we need to look into whom stress influences the most.

Who is most affected by stress?

Stress and burnout are the lifestyle choice of successful and caring professionals, such as leaders, HR's, lawyers, IT professionals, bankers, investment professionals, medical doctors, etc. Stress and burnout also hunt those with high responsibilities, such as business leaders and entrepreneurs. 

When your work is intensive, you experience constant pressure to perform well daily. Often such high performers put themselves on the frontline for the success of the workplace. 

The problem from an employer standpoint is simple such high performers are not easily replaceable due to their in-depth professional skills. Such professionals cannot delegate their tasks to others as easily. The fact is also that during the lockdown any delegation of tasks to others became harder. We navigated on uncertain waters and still learn how to work remotely on such an extensive scale. 

In the case of high performers, it is not only the professional skills that matter, but their value lies in long-time practical experience, personal trust and healthy relationships with your customers. So, stress can cause a cascade of things that reduce productivity.
 

Removing stress removes productivity and employee engagement related problems


What suffers during the overload periods is taking time off and sleeping well every night. Working from home often has made things worse. Besides work, now we needed to cook meals, lacked a supportive work environment, faced IT-related issues, etc. Also, the troublesome economic situation did not make it easier. Even the stock markets went up with the currency printing waves, the real-life economic situations and turnovers mostly did not. Work needed to be re-arranged and reimagined and then re-learned, often remotely. What we got out of that were just more and more stress triggers.

How to solve the stress and burnout challenge?

The simple answer is: Business leaders, HR's, and training and development professionals need to equip their staff with practical and applicable intrapersonal skills that enable their people to deal with daily pressures and stressful situations. 

The fundamental problem is not out there, it is within our own minds. This problem is a total lack of intrapersonal skills that keep us from responding adequately to external situations under pressure. Thus we get stressed, and so the snowball of health and productivity problems starts to grow until it becomes too big to be ignored.

 

Up to now, many workplaces have taken a reactive approach to well-being and mental health, rather than having a pre-emptive approach that focuses on supporting good mental well-being and helps to prevent poor health and productivity issues. It is such a proactive mental wellness approach that distinguishes Wellness Orbit from other offerings. 

We aim to keep your staff well so that they can work well for you. Of course, letting us do our job is your job as you win more than we do, as the proactive approach to mental wellness has an excellent ROI and secures your employee engagement and productivity.

Conclusion

If you care for your people, your people will care for the cause of your workplace. For that, you need people who have fit minds and know how to relieve their stress. 

Remember to focus on mental wellness and it keeps your people well while the ride is tough. 

As a leader, HR, staff development, or wellness professional, you need to know how to keep your mind well and set yourself as an example to others. People will follow your lead and train their minds and the schedule rests when you do so. 

The early proactive approach to stress and burnout reduction is cheap, efficient, and with good ROI. Lead the way... so that you are not part of the shocking statistics at the beginning of this story. 

Click play on the video below and allow Dr. Lass to reveal more.



What are you waiting for? 

This digital mental wellness revolution is here for you and everyone in your team. The low cost mental wellness training solution is just a click away, ask the best price for your team.

 


This blog post is by Kaur Lass