550 million working days are lost every year in the U.S. from stress related time off. This absenteeism costs American companies an...
As the year winds down, business owners and executives often do an assessment of operations and decide how to improve productivity and revenue for the upcoming year. Measurable costs like utilities, office supplies and vendor contracts are often revisited and analyzed for improvement.
How often, however, do companies stop and assess the toll of intangible things on bottom line? Things like employee well-being are often difficult to measure but have a big impact on the overall success of a business. The European Agency for Safety and Health found that 550 million working days are lost every year in the U.S. from stress related time off. This absenteeism costs American companies an estimated $602 per worker annually.
Stress is more than a mental state and can cause serious physical ailments. According to stress management expert Deepak Chopra, extended stress has a detrimental effect on physical health because the body enters a "fight or flight" state and neglects other vital basic bodily functions like digestion.
Stress also negatively impacts the alertness of the mind, and leads to a drowsy, non-productive state when the burst of adrenaline wears off. Employees under constant stress are unhappy and are simply less productive.
When considering ways to improve efficiency in the coming year, do not overlook stress reduction in the office or virtual office environment. Here are a few expert suggestions on how to make this valuable improvement:
1. Encourage exercise. You do not have to have a gym onsite to give employees the encouragement to workout. Reach out to local health clubs in the area and ask about company discounts. If you have it in your budget to match some of the membership fees, even if it is less than $10, do it. You can also contact fitness class instructors and ask about a weekly lunchtime visit to hold a class at the workplace. Either pay for this service or ask for a reduced per class rate for employees that want to attend.
2. Hire a listener. Retain a professional psychologist, therapist or clergyperson to visit the office one or two times each month. Have a set time when the professional plans to be in the building and allow employees leeway to go in and speak with him or her. Many non-denominational chaplains now offer corporate services in order to reduce workplace stress. Employees may be too tired or worn out to seek out the listening ear of a psychologist or other trained listener in their free time; providing this option during office hours is a smart way to let employees decompress and discuss workplace, or even personal, stressors in a non-threatening environment.
3. Set aside a stress-free space. There are simply times when getting away from a desk or cubicle is needed. Create a serene spot in the building that is designated a "quiet area" where employees can escape for a few minutes when needed. According to Geek.com, search engine conglomerate Google offers its employees nap pods in order to help them regain energy and get away from negative feelings associated with stress during a normal workday. While not every company has the resources of Google, a smaller-scale space for relaxation is easy to create.
- Consider strategies for creating an engaging office here.
Employee well-being has one of the biggest impacts on the success of a business. Something as simple as encouraging end of the year organization tips can help boost morale. Utilizing these three easy stress reduction ideas can help your business see even more success than it does now.
Photo credit: myhealthliving.com
Bio: Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com covers local news in over 30 markets and is one of the largest online business directories.