• Health Care Innovation

    Promoting employee wellness by preventing stress at work

     

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    November 14, 2013

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    Stress in the workplace is dangerous for everyone. Studies have shown that excessive stress can diminish employees’ health – from weakening the immune system to increasing susceptibility to life-threatening illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease. And for employers, workplace stress costs an estimated $300 billion per year in missed work, decreased productivity and staff turnover.

    No matter how you look at it, stress has a negative impact on the workplace. What can we do to encourage a healthy workplace and help employees prevent and manage stress?

    Take a holistic approach to your employee wellness program

    Many employee wellness programs only focus on physical wellness – fitness, weight loss, etc.  However, holistic wellness programs that address other domains as well, such as stress and work-life balance, can ultimately lead to better results because they help employees gain the confidence and skills needed to achieve greater overall wellness.

    Building wellness programs that include offerings such as yoga and stress management classes can help employees achieve balance and learn how to prevent and control stress. They can also encourage employees to stay focused and committed to the physical goals of wellness programs. Typically, when someone is stressed or overworked, they experience high fatigue and diminished quality of life, making it hard to feel motivated to hit the treadmill or eat well.

    Help employees adjust their frame of mind

    Constant negative thoughts can increase stress, while a consistent positive attitude can help reduce stress. Positive thinking has been shown to increase life span, lower rates of depression, improve coping skills during hardship and even improve resistance to the common cold.

    You can encourage positive thinking and attitude among employees by:

    • Creating a space in the office for quiet time or meditation
    • Hosting monthly/quarterly team building workshops
    • Scheduling regular social activities for employees
    • Setting up a mentor program
    • Creating an environment of fun and laughter

    Get moving

    Thirty-minutes of brisk walking on a regular basis can help reduce stress levels and boost the immune system. Make walking a part of your workplace culture by:

    • Scheduling walking meetings, or adding 10-minute walking breaks to meeting agendas, when possible
    • Establishing a walking group that walks together a few times each week during lunch
    • Providing employees with the option to have a Fit Desk, instead of a traditional work station

    How else can we help employees manage stress in the workplace? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. And get involved with our ongoing conversation about workplace wellness by joining the Leading Michigan to a Healthier Future group page on LinkedIn.

    Photo Credit: Dave King

    About Cindy Bjorkquist, M.S.

    Cindy Bjorkquist is the Director of Wellness, Care Management and Health Promotion Program Development for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM). She is responsible for the development and lifecycle process for clinical member-facing programs as well as contracting and management for any vendor programs for all market segments including commercial, individual and Medicare programs. Cindy has more than 24 years of experience in the design, delivery and evaluation of integrated wellness and care management programs for hospitals, corporate entities and health plans. Cindy lectures regularly on a national level and holds a master of science in exercise physiology, corporate health management, from Michigan State University and a bachelor of arts in exercise in sports science and biology from Spring Arbor University. To connect with Cindy and discuss Michigan workplace wellness, join the Leading Michigan to a Healthier Future LinkedIn group.

     

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