Stress, also known as the silent killer - mental or emotional strain or tension that results from adverse or very demanding circumstances – can weigh heavily on a person's health. It can increase a person's risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many different mental health problems like anxiety and sleeping disorders, something very common among our patient base in Puerto Rico. Stress reduces the quality of life and makes it difficult to handle the day-to-day pressures of living.
There are few places considered more stressful for many people than their workplace.
Most working adults report experiencing stress at work, and some even describe it as the biggest challenge they face in the workplace. It doesn't matter how traditionally stressful their jobs might be. Everyone deals with some kind of stress while on the job. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers feel stressed on the job. Almost half say they need help to learn to manage their stress. There is also an interesting correlation between stress and productivity at work.
Stress is more than just a short-term feeling of being overwhelmed. Chronic stress is one of today's most significant health problems. It can lead to frequent headaches, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, difficulty making decisions, memory issues and communication problems. In short, not what you would expect from a healthy workplace environment, and not ideal for productivity.
What are the best performing companies doing to manage stress at work ?
A growing number of organizations are implementing corporate wellness programs for employees as an additional benefit. These programs vary a great deal, and include things like mindfulness, breathwork training, yoga classes, neurofeedback, nutrition counseling, and also memberships at a gym or fitness club. But these elements work best when integrated with a holistic health program that includes an annual medical check-up and access to follow-up visits with doctors that have a better understanding of the company's stress levels and environment.
One of the latest trends in Silicon Valley is offering employees Concierge Medical Memberships that include elements such as:
- Annual medical exams
- 24/7 access to primary care physicians
- Telemedicine - using a mobile App for quick consultations with Doctors, Nutritionists and/or Wellness Coaches that already know a patient's medical history
- Alternative therapies like massage therapy, acupuncture and neurofeedback training
- Psychological Counseling
- Targeted programs for employees that are battling specific chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma
- Wellness retreats - going away for a two-day decompression in nature guided by professional wellness coaches that teach techniques to deal with stress at work
Google, Apple and Twitter are some examples of progressive companies that offer these kinds of benefits to their employees. They understand that simple health insurance is no longer enough in today's world. For these large corporations is very typical to partner with a Concierge Medical Clinic, and sometimes these partnerships even include opening and managing concierge clinics within the company workplace.
In some cases, corporate wellness programs focus on stress. Programs that target stress and help employees manage stress can go a long way. They help in creating an environment that promotes well-being and lets employees know their employer prioritizes their health. This, in turn, can help the organization's productivity and bottom line.
The Cost of Not Taking Action
The downside of ignoring employee stress, or failing to help them manage stress, can cost a lot. Burnout from stress leads to lower productivity and high turnover. The long-term ramifications of not offering stress management programs cost companies more than investing in corporate wellness programs that minimize problems for employees.
Corporate wellness programs tend to focus on helping employees with both physical and mental health issues. Many companies have implemented programs that include stress management as a major factor and provide yoga or meditation classes to employees. They might bring a massage therapist onsite once a week or month, or create competitive challenges for employees intended to reduce the overall stress faced by the staff.
Corporate wellness should not be the only option to help employees reduce stress. Management also needs to make sure their employees' health is within optimal levels and that they are not overloaded. They should be using their allotted time away, and take action to relieve the burden caused by layoffs or downsizing. But in addition to dealing with specific workplace issues, they can also help to implement a corporate wellness program. This goes above and beyond making sure employees have the minimum they need to perform their jobs, and provides them with the support that allows them to flourish.
Companies that ignore stress at work or consider it something normal that the employees should manage on their own should anticipate higher turnover, a decline in productivity, lower performance and higher health insurance costs.
In Puerto Rico, Pravan Clinic offers one of the most comprehensive Corporate Wellness Programs in the island. Employers from different industries such us health insurance, law firms or advertising agencies have decided to invest in the health of their employees and executives, beyond providing health insurance, because they understand the relationship between stress, cost and productivity.
It's entirely possible to help employees reduce workplace stress, and doing so can benefit everyone.