What is workplace stress?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a record financial upheaval that has shaken companies to their roots. The worldwide business closures and the economic downturn have caused many companies to pay reductions, reduce labor strength, or shut down all operations. As firms ask their employees to go back to work, employees need to deal with higher stress levels than before the pandemic.

Workplace stress isn't a novel phenomenon.  More than 90% of employees report experiencing stress in their workplace. The American Psychological Association also said in its 2017 report titled "Anxiety in America: The State of Our Country" that work was one of the top three sources of anxiety for Americans.

But from the context of this coronavirus pandemic, workplace stress has increased. Together with the coronavirus pandemic, not only are the everyday workplace stressors compounded, employees now have to deal with newer pandemic-related stressors. The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the common workplace stressors, including job insecurity, heavy workload, tight deadlines, insufficient work environment, and financial issues. Many companies have turned to cover cuts, layoffs, and operational adjustments to free up limited funds amid the coronavirus-induced financial constraints. Employees are returning to work to fulfill a smaller workforce who would bear the burden of their heavy workload and shorter deadlines to allow companies to recover financially. 

Employees with chronic diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and obesity, now work under increased stress, being the very at-risk population of contracting COVID-19 and dying from it. Work-induced stress isn't just bad for worker health, but it's also bad for business.

With increased stress levels comes diminished work productivity. Working in a stressful environment reduces employees' ability to concentrate and get jobs done efficiently. What is more, the psychological and physical toll brought on by stress may induce many employees to take solace in psychoactive drugs and alcohol, further decreasing workplace growth. Therefore, employers need to adopt these strategies to reduce workplace stress and make work a bit more fun amid the worldwide health crisis.

See: Mindfullness Meditation For Sleep

What is a corporate wellness program?

Everyone knows that prevention is better than cure. However, the present health scenario in most of today's organizations will concentrate more on providing the treatment instead of taking preventive measures. This is where the traditional health programs took backstage in mitigating worker health risks, and the idea of corporate health programs came into the picture. However, most of the current day's corporate health programs offered by companies mostly include paid insurance covers, subsidized healthcare solutions, extended medical leaves, and much more.

Though these steps are remarkable, they only come into effect after a worker has undergone any treatment or succumbed to serious health difficulties. Corporate wellness programs do not consider the concept of leading a healthy lifestyle through constant and concentrated efforts. This is the reason the demand for current corporate health programs arose for the current leaders and associations.

So what's a corporate wellness program?

A corporate health and wellness program is an employers' approach towards achieving a healthy workplace by integrating various health activities within the daily work schedule to advertise their workers' wellbeing. The advantages of corporate health programs are manifold. Creating wellness programs helps solve various workplace health dangers arising from the use of unhealthy food and beverages, anxiety, lack of physical activity, and much more. These steps, in particular, assist in cultivating a feeling of being healthy.

An American Psychological Association report reveals that 89% of employees at businesses that encourage wellbeing campaigns are more likely to recommend their company as a fantastic place to work. Corporate wellness programs are found in many forms across different organizations. Some might offer insurance covers for their workers' while others might take a step forward by installing office gyms. Corporate health programs also can be customized based on a company's needs, size, and price range.

See: Recreational music-making modulates natural killer cell activity, cytokines, and mood states in corporate employees.

Corporate wellness programs importance

Workspace wellness driving factors

The modern-day work environment- with its long periods of sitting, speedy takeout meals, and monitor eye strain- is not constructive to your workers' mental or physical wellbeing. Employees tend to make unhealthy decisions compared to healthy ones, only because they do not have enough opportunity to do so. Picking up a doughnut for breakfast is more straightforward than making a salad. Several cups of coffee replacement for a poor night's sleep. Getting some additional winks in the morning rather than getting up and exercising.

All these illnesses, generally speaking, indicate poor physical health among workers. Amidst the urgency to achieve our peak physical health, we often overlook mental health. Having a "healthy mind" and "healthy body" should not be considered two distinct entities. It is not an apple into an orange circumstance. You don't need to choose one over the other. Organizations focus so hard and so long on facilitating good physical health don't stop taking into account the consequences of ignoring mental health in the business. Encouraging employee wellness goes far beyond those very necessary measures.

With a small budget and limited resources, corporate health programs might seem like a low priority. However, investing in corporate health programs may prove better for your organization in the long term. Researchers from Harvard published a comprehensive summary of 22 unique studies over three decades, and here is what they found. For each $1 which has been spent on a health program, the business saved $3.27 due to reduced healthcare costs. It is not surprising to find that the value of building a culture around healthful living.

- Work-related illnesses: When a worker is in good health, it reveals through reduced stress, greater strength, and better immunity.

Less stress & anxiety: Anxiety among workers goes down considerably when they are in a healthy state.

Lower turnover: 88% of surveyed workers claim access to corporate health plans weigh heavily in the decision to join and stay at a firm.

- Reduced absenteeism: Absenteeism is decreased by 27 percent for those exercising and eating healthy frequently.

- Better morale: Healthier employees are far more positive, enthusiastic, and outgoing, making morale at work go up.

Insurance cost: When workers get sick less frequently, it qualifies for lower health insurance prices, thus leading to substantial savings for workers and companies alike.

- Increased Productivity: Well-being, generally speaking, improves focus and productivity among workers.

By investing in corporate health programs, companies are in a special position to drive employee participation and make healthier, happier, and more productive workforces.

See: Yoga Nidra and Meditation benefits for cancer patients

Natural therapies for corporate wellness

Holistic therapies for corporate wellness

Wellness is the condition of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal. Wellness isn't just a program to be executed. Wellness is in itself a method of living. In hindsight, the majority of the classic corporate health programs only recognize the physical part of health. While this certainly is much better than nothing, companies that only emphasize physical wellbeing are missing out on a substantial opportunity to positively affect their workers' overall wellbeing.

- Yoga: Yoga uses breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation to enhance general health. The centuries-old practice is increasingly finding its way into the office. In actuality, the demand for corporate yoga has made whole squadrons of yoga instructors specialize in workplace settings. Yoga has a lengthy list of scientifically proven advantages, such as decreased muscle pain, stress, anxiety, enhanced quality of life, fitness, flexibility, and strength.

Benefits Of Yoga

Reduced Back Pain: One of the primary reasons many individuals think about yoga is back pain, which can be among the most frequent workplace complaints about people with desk jobs. A 2012 British study demonstrated the point with an eight-week survey that drew participants from a government office. It divided the participants into two groups. One group was invited to do yoga for a week, and the other group was allowed to continue their normal lifestyle. The story proved the yoga group reported significantly less back pain and reduced stress, in addition to higher self-assurance, serenity, and concentration. By comparison, the group that did not partake in yoga reported more bitterness, sadness, anxiety, and back pain.

Reduced Burnout Rates: A 2015 study published in Workplace Health and Safety found that nurses who conducted a weekly yoga session for eight weeks experienced tremendous reductions in warning signals for burnout. One of the advantages were- higher degrees of self-care, less psychological fatigue, and increased compassion when in their contact with patients.

Less Absenteeism: Yoga in the office has been shown to decrease absenteeism from illness or other physical problems, improve company morale, and enhance communication skills among workers. Moreover, workers who took lunchtime yoga classes at two office sites in California reported a steep decrease in tension and muscular pain.

- Diet & Nutrition: You are what you eat. Partaking in healthy, nutritious diet acts as medication - to preserve, prevent, and treat disease. Eating healthy is the utmost precaution you can take for various health-related problems that might arise at any given point in time. However, maintaining a nutritious diet may be quite challenging. 

According to WHO, 80 percent of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes cases could be avoided by adopting a healthy diet.

Benefits of healthy eating

Improved Immunity: A healthy meal is an essential key to achieving better immunity against many chronic diseases. Meals complimented with veggies are terrific sources of dietary fibers and multivitamins.

Increased metabolism: Protein-rich foods help in enhancing the body's metabolism rate. This also directly affects one's effort in losing weight favorably while keeping energy for day to day work.

- Running: Increased indulgence in routine cardio such as regular jogging will increase blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. It reveals a visibly improved heart muscle growth and enhanced cholesterol speed. According to different studies, running for only 30 minutes 5 times a week can help mitigate obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart ailments, depression, stabilize blood pressure and keep a check on more such undesirable health conditions.

Running has multiple health benefits such as -

Weight Management: By encouraging running, you can help your workers drop weight by reducing unwanted body fat. Each 5 minute run at a speed of 10-min/mile burns about 45 calories. The same completed for 30 minutes each day can help them remain in the ideal shape. 

Enhances Cardio Health: Nothing can beat a person with a healthy heart. Running affects the heart, which makes it more active, burning off the unnecessary quantity of calories. Additionally, it makes the arteries expand and contract up to thrice the amount compared with a man sitting idle, keeping the blood pressure low. Thus, mitigating the possibility of various heart-related ailments.

Muscle and Bone Strength: As we age, our bone and muscle strength decreases. Employees also fall prey to this because most modern-day work involves sitting at a desk all day without much physical activity. Taking up running as a customer can reduce this threat and help retain both bone and muscle strength for quite a long time.

Anxiety Reliever: Running provides an ample quantity of me-time that is necessary to rejuvenate themselves. Additionally, the feeling of being fitter than your sedentary counterparts also plays a massive part in mitigating stress. Additionally, running releases a lot of "feel-good hormone" called endorphins within the body to decrease pain sensation. The identical hormone is also responsible for slowing down the aging process, boost the immune system, and provide relief from tension and anxiety.

- Drinking water: Dehydration can significantly decrease energy levels, resulting in significant reductions in cognitive brain memory and performance. Increased brainpower: The vital advantage of drinking more water is again in brainpower. Since our mind consists of 73% water, drinking water helps you to think, concentrate, concentrate, and keep alert. Because of this, your energy levels also improve.

Promotes healthy weight: Water can aid in the elimination of fat by-products. You're not as likely to gain weight when you drink a few glasses of water before a meal instead of eating the basket of bread.

Boosts immunity: A water guzzler is not as likely to become sick. Drinking lots of water helps fight against influenza, cancer, and other disorders like heart attacks.

Flushes Out Toxins: Eliminating waste through sweat and urination, which lessens kidney stones and UTI's chance.

- Meditation: Helps to Boost positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, wholesome sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance. The objective of meditation isn't to eliminate thoughts or emotions. The purpose is to become more conscious of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to maneuver them through without getting stuck.

Besides reduced stress and enhanced productivity, there are quite a few other advantages of a corporate meditation program. Regular meditation practice will help to open innovative doorways in mind. With greater focus, problem-solving abilities get more creative, and fresh ideas enter the mind more freely. 

Benefits Of Meditation

Improved Focus: Meditation has been shown repeatedly to enhance our ability to sustain attention and reduce internal and external distractions. 

Less Stress: Stress has been associated with a broad assortment of health problems, including hypertension, substance abuse, anxiety, cardiovascular disease,  and depression. A Stanford study indicates that people who practice mindfulness meditation show decreased stress-related symptoms and report increases in their sense of control in their own lives. For example, mindfulness meditation can produce a 30% decrease in anxiety symptoms among those with a severe illness.

- Energy: Regular exercise can help build self-confidence, boost immunity, and keep you from health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

- Sleep: healthful sleep can help your body better regulate glucose levels, keep your immune system working correctly, and improve your heart health by reducing stress. These bad sleeping cycles are responsible for various psychological and physical health problems like depression and anxiety. Besides additionally, it leads to anxiety giving rise to stroke and other cardiovascular ailments.

Benefits of Good Sleep

Better Brain Function: Sleeping is directly connected to our brain function. Exactly like our body, the mind needs rest also. A complete sleep ensures normal brain function. It mitigates the possibility of various mental disorders arising because of improper sleeping schedules or lack of sleep.

Reduced Stress Level: Nothing could be a far better remedy for stress as opposed to a fantastic sleep. Keeping a good sleeping routine can help reduce the stress level. This has a positive influence on an individual's cardiovascular health, reducing the odds of chronic heart ailments.

- Strength: Strength, the fundamental physiological trait that enables us to push ourselves and attain maximum endurance capacity, is our everyday life.

- Weight Management: Unbalanced body weight is one of the prime motives behind many chronic ailments. On the other hand, strength training helps burn more calories and reduce excess weight by increasing the rate of metabolism. Mitigates the risk of various chronic ailments: Strength training plays a vital role in mitigating the risk of several chronic illnesses. It helps bring down the dangers associated with diseases like stroke, backache, diabetes, arthritis, and a lot more.

Skeletal Health: Engaging in strength training stresses the bones and helps to improve bone density. 

- Using corporate wellness program:  Wellness plans get the companies to incentivize the workers that can reach their wellness goals at the end of each challenge. This way, it benefits both employees and companies. Employers can monitor their employees' health advancement over time. And incentivization motivates the workers to take up challenges, participate in healthy competition, and complete challenges to earn rewards.

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Corporate wellness action items

- Offer wellness programs to lower stress

Employers could provide their employees with tools and resources to help them deal with stress. These could be online yoga classes, mindfulness videos, or video teleconferences with mental health specialists. Employers could also produce a stress management policy that clearly outlines the measures employees can take when experiencing workplace stress symptoms. Among the most useful tools for addressing workplace stress is your employee assistance programs). These programs allow employees access to mental health services, financial support, legal counsel, and other services that may improve employee productivity and health. Employers working during the pandemic should talk with their employees to recognize the ideal resources to produce EAPs more successful in improving employee health.

- Prioritize Self-Care and Wellness

In times like this, employees need more time to look after themselves. As mentioned earlier, workplace stress could cause or complicate chronic disease, consequently increasing the possibility of COVID-19. Employers should, therefore, continue to double back on employees' need to look after themselves. To do this, employers will need to reincorporate workplace health initiatives like offering access to online exercise and exercise programs and providing easy workout tools to help employees work out at home or work while gyms remain closed. Employers must also encourage virtual exercise challenges and help their workers set fitness goals to improve their health and wellbeing.

- Be open & listen

These are uncertain times, and inadequate communication about employees' tasks, deadlines, work remodeling, and job security could exacerbate workplace stress. Uncertainty about those details will, inevitably, hamper worker productivity. Employers must open communication channels in the office and make sure workers get clarity about all work-related issues, such as tools required to carry out their jobs and how to navigate the new workspace. Firms are redesigning their office spaces to follow coronavirus rules, including physical distancing measures, many workers will be working in isolation. 

In these scenarios, identify strategies to keep your employees interacting, such as instant messaging programs, hosting virtual social events, and encouraging one-on-one interaction through breaks - naturally, with everyone wearing face coverings and distancing as much as possible. Employers can also hold regular virtual meetings to permit employees to discuss how the pandemic affects work and what changes may help them cope with the new work requirements.

- Be flexible

These are unprecedented times, and the stress employees are undergoing is palpable. Employees want to have work flexibility now more than ever. For some workers, sticking to a 9-5 workout routine might be a tall order in such uncertain times. With worries of exposing themselves to potentially infected individuals or surfaces outside, like in public transport or hallways, some employees may prefer a hybrid pattern where they just visit the offices a few days per week. Add to this, the requirement to attend more home-related activities like children stuck in the home as schools remain shut means that workers will need more flexibility in work to have better control over their own lives. Identify what jobs may not want an onsite operation and permit such employees to work at home. For workers that might have to be onsite, company owners may offer shorter work schedules or fewer workdays.

See: Functional Medicine For Anxiety

References

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/two-thirds-of-consumers-say-their-wellness-program-does-not-test-for-smoking-healthmine-survey-300293775.html

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/protecting-workers'-health

https://www.aflac.com/business/resources/aflac-workforces-report/default.aspx

https://www.xerox.com/downloads/usa/en/buck/reports/hrc_global_wellness_survey_info.pdf

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/06/workplace-well-being.aspx

See: How to relieve stress & anxiety naturally

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