WS – Managing Workplace Stress

Dealing With Stress at Work

Feeling a little frazzled at work? You’ve got company. Americans are dealing with increasing levels of stress in the workplace at the cost of their health. Some of it makes sense; after all, we’ve got a reputation for being workaholics. Of all those offered vacation days each year, only around half report taking any. Many employees also work weekends and overtime on a regular basis, leaving little time for decompression.

A 2014 study spearheaded by NPR revealed over half of American employees suffer from occupational stress in a given year. Of those, 1 in 5 reported suffering a great deal of stress. Occupational stress follows you home. Office anxiety can affect the body and mind at all hours.

The Top Causes of Occupational Stress

The study highlights a number of stressors common in the workplace. While these represent those occurring most, there are a large number of potential stressors to elude. The most common causes of occupational stress listed in the study are:

  • Occupational effects on personal health
  • Safety hazards in the workplace
  • Insufficient wages/Excessive Workload
  • Unmet benefits demands

The list goes on but it’s clear overwork and under-appreciation rank high. Excessive stress can manifest physically through insomnia, high blood pressure, and a reduced capability to fight illness. High-stress levels are linked to anxiety levels and fluctuations in weight, leading to further complications. Before succumbing to occupational stress, take steps to manage workplace stress.

Managing Occupational Stress

Many management techniques are available to help reduce and eliminate stress. The right combination will depend on the individual. For some, there may be multiple stressors to manage. Tips for managing occupational stress include:

1. Find the source. Stress will be easier to manage once the stressors have been established. Personal methods may vary but experts recommend recording stressors over several weeks. What happened, your reaction, who was there and how you responded will all help in creating a record.

2. Choose healthy methods for coping. There are many ways to relieve stress and remain healthy. Exercise, reading, yoga, and meditation are just a sample of activities to get your mind off work.

3. Create boundary lines. Today, the lines between work and home are getting blurry. If work intrudes on your personal time, set times to ignore devices and decompress.

4. Remember personal time. While setting boundaries, remember to leave time for yourself. Half of the American workforce is leaving vacation time on the table. Take a vacation and relax a little.

5. Speak to a manager. If the stress continues to be an issue, speak to a manager. Good supervisors want to know if their team has an issue. Sharing concerns about workplace stress can lead to improvements.

6. Find a support structure. Some companies have employee assistance programs for supporting staff. For others, community and family may be the right solution. Overwhelmed? Speak to your physician or contact a psychologist.

Fight back. Learn how to spot, manage, and eliminate workplace stress to support living a happy and healthy life.

Place Safety First and Avoid Injuries in the Workplace

Place Safety First and Avoid Injuries in the Workplace

This past year, employees across the nation suffered debilitating injuries in the workplace. For many, injuries led to amputation and permanent disability. For other, their injuries led to death. After any workplace accident, questions arise about fault, and if future accidents are preventable. In the worst cases, companies place profits above people with often disastrous consequences.

A recently published study in the Journal of Accounting and Economics highlights the correlation between profit and injury. Utilizing OSHA statistics and earnings information, the results are a bit unsettling. For companies meeting or slightly-beating earnings forecasts, the impact on staff is the most significant.

Employment illness rates for firms with stressful quotas increase by 5-15%. Firms falling below expectations had high percentages of affected staff as well. On average, for companies just meeting earnings goals, approximately 1 in 24 employees will fall ill or become injured. For companies falling below, the ratio is only slightly less-alarming at 1 in 27.

According to the study, this is largely thanks to two main contributing factors:

  • First, in firms striving to meet earnings goals employees often shoulder larger workloads to meet expectations.
  • Second, firms may cut corners on safety and wellness measures to meet goals.

Managers pressured to perform often pass stress along to their teams. This can include longer hours, increased workloads, and more. A fatigued staff is often more prone to illness or injury. Maintenance of machinery and other equipment, safety training, and other welfare measures are oft overlooked in exchange for short-term earnings.

Several standout figures emerged from the study:

  • Companies with union labor tend to have better safety records than others. This is largely a result of negotiated safety equipment, workload, and schedules. There is speculation that union employees may feel more comfortable addressing safety matters as well.
  • Workers compensation rates may motivate companies to be safer. The study found that companies operating in states with high workers compensation rates tended to have a reduced number of workplace injuries. It’s theorized this is a result of companies employing better safety measures to reduce claims expense.
  • Companies contracted by state or federal agencies scored higher for safety. This is likely due to government standards necessary for placing bids.

The study represents reported workplace injuries. It’s quite likely a large number of workplace accidents go unreported each year. In some cases, management creates a hostile environment. Other times, employees may be in fear of reprisal or termination. For many companies profits take precedence.

When companies sacrifice safety standards any short-term financial gains will be forfeited. An injury or death in the workplace, beyond the obvious tragedy, can have a significant impact on a business. Damaged reputation, insurance claims, and lengthy legal battles are the tip of the iceberg. Safety is always the best choice. If you own a business, practice safety and get protection. Call an agent for more information about commercial insurance and liability protection through GR Little.

Overcoming Digital Eyestrain

Overcoming Digital Eyestrain

The modern world is damaging eyes. Prolonged exposure to computer screens, phones, tablets and other digital devices can damage vision. The Vision Council estimates 83% of Americans spend 2 or more hours per day on a digital device. For many, this can be alleviated by limiting time spent on phones and e-readers yet for the average office employee, that may be a bit of a challenge. The American Optometry Association concluded the average American spends up to 7 hours per day looking at a computer screen.

Today over two-thirds of Americans report symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Also referred to as digital eyestrain, CVS includes painful short- and long-term symptoms such as:

  • Neck and shoulder strain
  • Blurred and interrupted vision
  • Migraine headaches
  • Lost vision and more

Proximity to the screen, ambient lighting, and screen brightness can also contribute to CVS. The American Optometry Association warns of further complications should symptoms go untreated.

Approaching Digital Eyestrain

There are several steps to take that may help reduce the risk for developing Computer Vision Syndrome:

  • Maintain an upright posture while viewing screens
  • If prescribed corrective lenses, be sure to wear them
  • Position device screens approximately 2 feet from the eyes
  • Employ effective lighting to minimizes screen glare
  • Look away from screens at 20-minute intervals for 20 seconds
  • Reduce fatigue and dry eye by blinking often

A comprehensive eye exam can help detect signs of digital eyestrain. A medical professional can make recommendations for individual treatment solutions.

Check back often for more health and insurance information for getting the most from life. For questions about insurance, contact an agent today.