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How managing employee stress leads to a healthier company

Sharon Florentine | Oct. 20, 2015
Helping employees manage and cope with workplace stress can boost engagement and benefit both individuals and the business.

To sustain employee engagement, organizations must not only create conditions that inspire employees to work hard and care about their companies, but also counteract the sources of employees' stress. In other words, employers must put some focus on managing workplace stress, so as not to undermine employee engagement.

On the move

While many IT workers have been early adopters of mobile health apps and fitness trackers, the issue is that many of these solutions are self-administered and provide information to the user without insight or a treatment plan, says James Harris, director of sales and marketing, CONCERN-EAP. That's why it's important to focus on a company-wide push for resilience and overall stress management using a range of techniques to help manage stress and perform optimally in high-pressure situations.

Calmness, anger management, sleep management, nutrition, physical fitness - it all ties together to help people perform at their best. "CONCERN-EAP functions as a 'resilience hub'; it doesn't reinvent the wheel, it aggregates quality resources and directs clients to counseling professionals, to videos, articles and all sorts of other resources they can use to build emotional resilience so they can perform more effectively," Harris says.

CONCERN-EAP is a mobile-ready portal designed around the needs of an on-the-go worker. There are four 'toolboxes' focused on specific areas where users might need assistance: sleep, stress, anger and calm, Harris explains, and each toolkit uses evidence-based, practical knowledge to guide users through building and maintaining their skills in these areas.

"We are trying to be proactive about this concept of resilience. We find our demographics are skewed more heavily toward the 30-and-under aged workers, and we want to focus on preventative aspects before they get burned out. We want users to have access to these tools before they have a mental or physical crisis so they are equipped to handle everything in their lives more effectively," Harris says.

The sweet spot of stress

Developing resilience and effective stress management techniques doesn't mean employees won't ever have to deal with stress, but rather will be much better equipped to handle stress when situations arise - and in the IT industry, those situations will arise.

"It's not about eliminating stress completely. You do need a certain amount of it to sharpen your focus, to get your brain working hard at solving problems and be the most effective at whatever you're doing. The trick is to find what we call the 'sweet spot' of stress," says Limeade's Albrecht.

Stress isn't inherently good or bad, unless there's either too much or too little, or if people aren't equipped to handle it, according to Albrecht. Too little stress could lead to depression; too much and you'll burn out. The key is to manage stress so it's at optimal levels that can help drive workers' purpose and motivation. And doing so has to be a clear organizational priority all the way up to the C-suite.


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