In today’s highly competitive market, business leaders must improve the working environment to better manage work-related stress – and it doesn’t have to be costly, says chairman Warren Mathews.
Most people instinctively know how damaging stress can be to their health and well-being, but it doesn’t mean professionals or employers are always successful in managing stress in the workplace.
International research has identified work as the single biggest cause of stress in people’s lives, ahead of financial problems or health issues.
A 2013 mental health survey of more than 2,000 working professionals in the United Kingdom, found that workplace stress resulted in 28 percent of professionals having suicidal thoughts or developing anxiety, 57 percent drinking after work and 14 percent drinking during the day to cope with work-related stresses and pressure.
Other coping mechanisms include smoking (28 percent), taking antidepressants (15 percent), over the counter sleeping aids (16 percent) and prescribed sleeping tablets (10 percent).
In New Zealand similar trends are emerging with 69 percent of professionals listing work/life balance including flexible arrangements as their top priority, ahead of a higher salary and organisational or cultural fit.
A culture of fear and silence about workplace stress was also highlighted in the UK survey. Of those surveyed, 39 per cent admitted taking time off sick due to stress but failed to disclose this to an employer due to feeling like they “couldn’t tell their boss about their stress issues”.
More than half of the managers surveyed admitted they would like to do more to improve staff mental wellbeing, but felt they “needed more training or guidance which was not a priority in their organisation”.
In a similar fashion, TIME Magazine citing a survey by the Journal of Occupational Health and Psychology, attributed “our need to be constantly connected electronically to the office” as having a negative impact on health, otherwise known as ‘telepressure’.
The article said that more than 52 per cent of Americans suffered from ‘telepressure’ in the form of poor sleep quantity, high levels of burnout and increased health-related absences from work.
In addition to ‘telepressure’, three out of four working Americans said their boss was the most stressful part of their job, while 44 per cent claim to have been verbally, emotionally or physically abused by a supervisor or boss at some point in their career, and 31 per cent of workers felt their boss doesn’t appreciate them.
Work-related mental health problems and behaviours associated with stress are too important for businesses to ignore. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), stressful working lifestyles have narrowed the life expectancy between the sexes, as modern women spend their lives juggling work and family.
What’s more the costs associated with workplace stress go far beyond an individual’s health – it’s also costly to employers.
Stress-related health expenses, productivity losses and the costs associated with high employee turnover rates cost New Zealand businesses millions of dollars each year.
Some of the most common causes of work-related stress include rigid work practices in which people are unable to work out their own solutions to day-to-day problems, poor communication, a non-supportive work culture, ambiguity or uncertainty regarding a role or task, work that requires long periods of intense concentration or has high consequences from error (e.g. medicine, air traffic control, policing) and career uncertainty or stagnation.
According to New Zealand Occupational Health and Safety, a healthy work environment promotes personal health by being more fulfilling for employees and more productive for organisations.
In order to maintain a successful business, employers must focus on improving the working environment to support staff wellbeing – whether mental, emotional or physical – and it doesn’t have to be a costly exercise.
Offering flexible working hours, additional annual leave, fitness and/or relaxation facilities, healthy eating options and fostering strong relationships between staff can help to support a more balanced work environment.
Employers who take action to support the mental wellbeing of staff will often experience positive flow on effects in terms of improved employee motivation, increased productivity, commitment and recommendations that their business or organisation is a great place to work.
Having successful, happy staff is the secret to operating a successful business. These are people who will go the extra mile for an employer simply because they feel part of something that is worthy of their loyalty and dedication – and in the business world that has immeasurable value.
Warren Matthews is the founder and chairman of family-owned New Zealand supplement, superfood and skincare company, Xtend-Life Natural Products, headquartered in Christchurch.
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About Xtend-Life Natural Products (Intl) Limited
Founded in 2000 by Christchurch entrepreneur, Warren Matthews, Xtend-Life is a family-owned multi-million dollar supplement, skincare and superfood company. Its mission is to provide a foundation for strong health, a better appearance and to enhance the potential for satisfaction and overall enjoyment of life.
Customers receive guaranteed, exclusive formulas that are made in full compliance with the American Food and Drug Administration Standards (FDA) including the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) for dietary supplements. Xtend-Life is a member of the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED). All ingredients are purchased from reliable sources and tested extensively to prove their potency and purity. Xtend-Life Natural Products has had zero product recalls in the history of its business.
For more information, visit www.xtend-life.com.