Is it really any wonder that the World Health Organization considers stress to be the “health epidemic of the 21st century?” Stress weighs heavily on the minds (and bodies) of employees today:
- More than 80% of employed Americans say they are stressed out on the job
Over 20% of workers spend more than five hours on the clock each week thinking about their stressors and worries — and 41% say their productivity levels dropped due to stress
1,000,000 employees miss work each day because of stress
25% of workers have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress — and 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent
Stress isn’t always a bad thing, of course, and we can’t make it “just go away.” It’s part of the human experience, helping us flee from danger and even accomplish tasks more efficiently. But when stress becomes chronic and starts wearing on our bodies and minds — impacting our health, happiness, and productivity — it becomes a problem. En masse, it becomes the health epidemic of the 21st century.
Which brings us to our point: If stress is a body/mind issue, shouldn’t it be addressed with a whole-person approach to wellbeing?
[Read More: Stress Management]
We think holistic health and wellness is practically a panacea for a perennially stressed-out workforce. Here’s why you should consider a whole-person wellbeing solution:
1. Employers Are In A Unique Position To Help Employees Feel Less Stressed
There’s good news and bad news, but let’s take the bad news first. According to research from the Anxiety and Stress Association of America, employees say stress and anxiety most often impacts their:
- Workplace performance - 56%
- Relationship with coworkers and peers - 51%
- Quality of work - 50%
- Relationships with superiors - 43%
(But you might not know it!) The study found that most employees are not comfortable discussing stress with their employer. Over a third (34%) fear their boss would interpret it as lack of interest or unwillingness to do the activity, 31% fear being labeled “weak,” 22% fear it would affect promotion opportunities, another 22% fear it would go in their file, and 20% are afraid of being laughed at or not taken seriously.
The writing is on the wall: employees are struggling with stress and its impact on job performance. With financial costs from reduced productivity, everybody loses here.
Here’s the good news: there is a solution. Employees want your help, and in today’s competitive employment marketplace, they’re expecting your help. You have opportunities to step in and answer their call. While employees can certainly take advantage of their healthcare benefits to seek necessary medical interventions, the real value lies in the lifestyle resources and tools employers can provide to support the employees who support their company. A team supported with tangible ways to manage stress is a team with wider capacity to consistently perform their best.
2. Wellbeing isn't One-Size-Fits-All
It’s important to note that what’s going to help one employee isn’t necessarily going to help the person in the next cubicle. Employees are stressed out about different things, and stress affects each person differently. One employee’s family pressures may lead to overeating junk food while another’s stress over their impending retirement may show up in debilitating back pain. Still another worker might be burning the midnight oil and losing sleep due to money concerns.
In every stress case, individual effectiveness starts dipping below-par, but it takes something different to reduce stress, “get healthy,” and work at full capacity. So what’s the right approach to meet everybody’s needs? It looks like a whole-person wellbeing solution that enables each employee to address their personal goals, whether they’re tackling nutrition, physical fitness, sleep — or all of the above — to manage stress.
In the past, employers may have simply recommended employees contact their EAP or schedule some vacation days. (Not bad advice, by the way.) Today, employees want more. They want permission to prioritize their wellbeing, and they’re looking toward a wellbeing culture to support them with wellbeing programs they can customize for their personal needs and goals. This means it’s as easy for them to practice meal-time mindfulness as it is to do some relaxing, targeted stretches at their desk.
3. Health Risk Factors are Interconnected
Doesn’t it just make sense that improving wellbeing across the lifestyle spectrum is the best way for employees to feel less stressed and ultimately arrive at their best?
Here’s a simple example: Stress is a risk factor for depression, and feeling down-in-the-dumps can prevent people from exercising; lack of physical activity inhibits sleep hygiene, and not getting enough sleep can lead to overeating donuts at the morning meeting; a sugar-rush energy crash is a great reason to skip the stress-busting lunchtime walk...and so on and so forth.
Your employees are familiar with this cycle. But when habits are built around stress, lack of physical activity, sleep deprivation, and poor diet — that’s when costly health conditions start to emerge. Just thinking about this is enough to cause significant stress!
Stress Comes From All Directions — Shouldn’t We Defend Ourselves Holistically?
At the end of the day, taking a holistic approach to reducing lifestyle risks is more likely to lead to results. This is based on both science and conventional wisdom. So we have to ask: Is there a better option for helping your employees fight stress than to provide them with resources that support their whole-person wellbeing?