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Published on : January 15, 2014

Are You Doing Enough To Protect Your Employees from Workplace Burnout?

Are You Doing Enough To Protect Your Employees from Workplace Burnout?

There is no denying the popularity of wellness programs. Numerous studies from sources such as Harvard University to GlobalFit, a healthy living program provider, show that most companies, large and small have implemented them. However, have they implemented the best programs for their productivity issues to alleviate “workplace burnout?”

Most wellness programs consist of some combination of gym memberships, nutritional guidance and web portals provided by insurance companies. While it is true that fitness and nutrition are incredibly important to stave off serious illness such as heart disease, diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome X, there is an area of wellness that has, up until very recently, was ignored. 

Stress and workplace burnout are serious factors in employee productivity, especially when those employees are solving creative problems as part of their job description. According to a Gallup Poll, 80 percent of employees suffer from workplace stress and nearly 40 percent of employees report needing help to manage their stress. That can be costly for employers. Sixty percent of all absences are due to stress-related issues, costing employers more than $57 billion a year, according to the American Psychological Association.

Physical Aspects of Stress

When one is over-stressed, it affects the whole body. Our bodies are totally prepared for the “normal” amount of stress. This is when we get that burst of adrenaline, and then the body is able to relax and return to normal.

Whenwe are in a chronic state of stress, the body starts to burn out and break down. We gain weight because of high cortisol levels. The heart pumps harder and blood pressure increases. When it cannot to return to normal because of ongoing stress, a heart attack or stroke may occur. We compromise our immune system when stressed. If an employee gets more than one cold a year, the norm for an average human, they areheading towards burnout.What about the digestive system? Stress eating high-sugar/high-carb comfort foods and the subsequent medications to alleviate gas and indigestion becomes a vicious cycle. There are more, but you get the idea. Stress affects everything.Therefore, when it affects your employees, it affects your business.According to a report from the American Institute of Stress, stress and burnout-related absenteeism, tardiness, low productivity, and job turnover cost American companies over $300 billion annually.

Physical activity and eating clean food is proven to lower stress levels, but it is not enough to stave off workplace burnout. Add to the mix activities and exercises that engage their outlook and mindset.

How We Think

The mind has two ways of thinking-subjective and objective, or on simpler terms the Inner-Child and the Adult minds. The Inner Child is the creative mind-when ideas flow freely and smoothly. The Adult mind is concerned with facts and paperwork. These opposing thought processescannot live in the same head at the same time. Nothing gets done. Too often, in corporate settings, the objective (Adult) mind takes over and stifles creativity. That is when workplace burnout happens. No amount of broccoli or push-ups can fix this. 

Having a program in place that promotes the playful side of thinking goes a long way to making your workers more focused and productive. Here are some examples:  Have your employees take “inspiration breaks” and let them play. The simple act of getting away from their desks will bring out the subjective mind. Give them a creative project they can do in 10-15 minutes in the middle of the day, a couple of days a week. Pick a theme and have them build something related to that theme with Popsicle sticks. Alternatively, show them a photograph of something fun and ask them to provide a back-story to it. What is happening in the photo? How are they doing what they are doing? Why is the action happening? This stokes their imagination and let us their inner child take over.

Avoiding Burnout

An advertising agency that RonaCorp works with was having a larger-than-normal amount of turnover the last few years. Their employees were burning out at the rate of about 30% a year. The average rate of turnover for business in the United States hovers around the 20% mark. We did an assessment and, among a few things, found their employees were too much in their “adult mind.” They did not leave their desks much and overall, were losing their perspective. One of the programs that worked well for them, and still does, is the “walk and talk.” We set up their team meetings and discussions outside, where they could walk around the neighborhood. A RonaCorp expert arranged the time, place to meet, and accompanied them to make sure they kept up the pace. The team members got out of office got their bodies moving, their blood flowing and still got business done. Their overall temperament improved and they became more productive. Slowly, but surely, the “burnout rate” is decreasing as they learn how to balance their physical and mental wellness.

Up until now, the term “wellness” has brought up images of nurse practitioners taking blood pressure readings, stretch breaks and nutritionists giving lunch and learns on the importance of fiber. This is a great start,but alleviating stress takes more. It needs to be more holistic and not in the “new age” sense. Holiatry is thecare of the entire person in all aspects of well-being, including physical, psychological and social.Companies need to start expanding their concept of employee wellness to include this aspect if they want to improve their bottom line.

The future of wellness will be putting even more emphasis on a healthy mind, along with having a healthy body. Adding these type exercises will supercharge your wellness programs and allow your employees to give their adult mind a break.They will have more fun, be less stressed and more appreciative of the company, which influences employee loyalty, retention and ultimately profitability.

About the Author

Rona Lewis is CEO of RonaCorp, a revolutionary corporate health and wellness company located in Los Angeles. It offers a holistic approach to wellness, incorporating employee attitudes, physical conditioning, motivation and productivity. Their specialty is alleviating employee stress and burnout that can sap creativity, morale and problem solving. Contact info: 818-568-5616;rona@ronalewis.com

www.theronacorp.com