Meeting the wellness needs of employees and fostering a culture of work-life balance is no easy task in our fast-paced world. Modern life has more people experiencing chronic stress than ever before — and we are all feeling the devastating effects.
The American Psychological Association describes chronic stress as “a public health crisis” and the World Health Organization calls stress “the health epidemic of the 21st Century.”
Over 70% of Americans experience physical and/or psychological symptoms associated with stress — and the costs to organizations is hefty.One estimate is that stress and the related illness, absenteeism, and reduced productivity, costs organizations as much as $300 billion a year.
And this is just the beginning.
The true cost of stress to your company is likely much more than financial.
If your workforce is chronically stressed, you could be missing out on the innovative ideas and solutions they would be producing if they were functioning with the full breadth of their internal resources.
Let me explain.
Stress creates a cascade of biochemical events in the body that puts us into survival mode – and this state affects our behavior, how we utilize our internal resources and the quality of our thoughts.
Stress physiology makes us reactive, problem-focused, easily triggered and self-interested – which is great for people in danger, but makes a terrible recipe for creating productive team members.
When the body perceives a threat it activates a fight-or-flight response that down regulates everything nonessential to surviving immediate danger. It’s pretty brilliant. The problem is the body is not discerning about what qualifies as a threat so when we get worked up about something this response is engaged whether we are worked up by a hungry tiger running towards us or a looming project deadline.
In the absence of this understanding and practices that calm the nervous system most people experience things like a full inbox, a new problem at work, an issue in a relationship or the task of coordinating a busy family’s schedule as actual threats to their lives on a physiological and biochemical level.
Alternatively, when stress physiology is in check and the healing branch of the nervous system is engaged we are primed to be healthier, positive, more creative and able to connect with a wider range of people.
Seems like an ideal employee, right?
All of our natural superpowers are down-regulated when our fight-or-flight response is engaged, which is why it is so important to empower your employees with education and practices that soothe the nervous system.
Studies show that implementing mindfulness programs results in huge financial gains for organizations. Beyond improving your bottom line, offering self-care education and teaching practices that develop mindfulness will make your employees healthy, empowered individuals ready to take on challenges in and out of the workplace — and they might just come up with the next world-changing idea as a result.
To fire up your business and supercharge your team with science-based support, check out my corporate offerings which include team building workshops + offsites, digital courses and 1-on-1 coaching.
Stay calm out there!