Employers have to be proactive in helping employees manage stress if they want their employees to be able to contribute as expected. 2016 has created a widespread fear of Breaking News and fear of being part of the story. Body counts are rising. Terrorism is occurring on our streets and at tourist destinations. Tension is rising around the world. Racial, religious, and political tensions make life more stressful for most people.
Everyone is repeatedly being assaulted with news about mass murders from terrorists at home and abroad. The stress level employees and their families are experiencing has a significant impact on their ability to perform their jobs. They’re being bombarded by negative news reports every day. The worries and concerns the media encourages people to worry about are vast:
Am I safe?
Is my job secure?
Do my co-workers really think as about me the way the news shows people of their race, religion, or political party think about people like me?
Am I being discriminated against because of my race, religion, or political party?
Can I be who I am or do I have to hid my true feelings?
I decide who I like (and don’t like) individually but will people of different races, religions, or political parties trust me to be fair?
My boss is a different race, religion, or political party than I am. Will I be given a fair chance at opportunities?
Am I safe?
Do my neighbors really think about me the way the news shows people of their race, religion, or political party think about people like me?
Will there be a race war on my street?
How can I help my neighborhood feel more comfortable for all my neighbors? Can I make a difference?
What sort of world will my children have to try to live in if the violence continues getting worse at this rate?
How can I be comfortable with my children going anywhere without my protection when I don’t know where the violence will happen next?
How can I teach my children to be world citizens when there seem to be so many reasons we are divided?
How can I protect my children?
Are my children safe at school?
It feels like I’m being told to hate half of what I am. It tears me apart.
I don’t feel like I belong anywhere.
Is it safe to go to the mall?
I have to pay attention and be vigilant everywhere I go.
The violence makes me worry about the economy.
The divisions seem so far apart. It feels like you have to pick one side or another but neither side represents me well.
It feels like we don’t talk about solutions anymore. We just argue like children and both sides are sure they are right and won’t even listen to other perspectives.
It no longer seems like politicians represent me. They are only interested in what they want.
Can any of them keep our streets and world safe from violence?
Most commonly recommended stress reduction techniques work by changing an individual’s focus. These methods distract people from their concerns but they don’t do anything to change the level of stress a person experiences when their thoughts return to stressful subjects. Because they don’t change the level of stress, they’re dose-dependent and only reduce stress when they are used. Dose-dependent stress reduction techniques like exercising, going outside, helping others, meditation, gratitude and journaling have been studied the most because they are easy to study, not because they are the most effective methods of stress reduction.
The most effective method of stress reduction is complicated and expensive to study because it requires information to be collected at the level of though and people think about 60,000 thoughts each day. Fortunately, new research makes teaching the techniques easier than ever. The most effective method of stress reduction changes the level of stress the person experiences when they think about a distressing topic so it is not dose-dependent. Once a person learns the techniques they can also apply them to reduce stress in new situations, keeping their overall stress level consistently lower.
There are many reasons employers should be concerned about how much stress employees are experiencing. Stressed employees are more likely to have accidents (on and off the job), they’re more likely to be absent, and to leave hoping they will feel better elsewhere. Drug and alcohol addiction researchers have long known that most addictions begin as an attempt to reduce stress by someone who lacks stress reduction skills.
Stress follows employees around like a dark cloud hanging over their head, making important social connections harder to maintain. Because stress interferes with the proper function of the immune and digestive systems, 65-95% of all illnesses and disease begin with stress. Stress can have a negative impact on multiple generations both in the form of epigenetic changes and by increasing the risk of pre-term birth and its associated consequences.
Stress negatively impacts many work outcomes. The chart below shows some of the problems associated with high stress environments.
Helping employees reduce stress provides significant competitive advantages because employees are able to think and feel better, which means they will treat customers better. It doesn’t look like the world is going to be better anytime soon. The sooner employers provide employees with training to deal with the high levels of stress the current environment is creating, the sooner they can get on with their business with fewer distractions.
Researchers have made it clear that emotional state is contagious. Can your company afford to be infected with high stress, anger, and despair?
Deeper conversations and skills that facilitate positive reappraisals lessen the impact of the daily headlines.
Large groups can learn to cognitively reappraise situations in order to reduce stress. The Smart Way program was created to help employees develop healthy habits of thought that allow them to be at their best. Contact Happiness 1st Institute today to see how we can help you and your employees maintain your focus and productivity in an era when people are beginning to fear turning on their televisions and computers because they are afraid another atrocity will be in the news. We make life easier even when times are hard.