Picking up from where we left off last time, organizational stress prevention is not a one size fits all approach. Whether it’s within a family of 3 or a 500 employee group, it’s vital that you know your population and design the right process, leaving room to change and evolve it over time. Since stress is something we’re all going to deal with our whole lives in some form or another, planning organizational stress prevention should be a long term plan with a minimum one year commitment.
Studies show that workplaces (and family life, I’d argue) with very high demand and very low control tend to be the highest “stress zones.” Think about your local post office in December for a moment. Workers behind the counter have very little control over their jobs and nearly every customer brings a different challenge of some sort; couple that with very long lines and frustrated customers, “going postal” seems like a very likely possibility. To apply that to a family dynamic, over scheduled family life, where family members feel a consistent lack of intimate family connection or even control over said schedules, leads to a higher stress zone in the household. Children are experiencing high levels of stress now more than ever with how many after school commitments and social gatherings they’re involved in on top of homework and classroom expectations. Sometimes I wonder if we’re just setting them up to be stressed out adults with very little stress prevention education and role-modeling! Giving our teammates, employees, or fellow family members more autonomy and flexible support often leads to a happier, less stressed organization in many ways.
One Year Commitment
I often suggest that companies commit to a 1 year stress prevention program. After creating the wellness council and surveying the population, we tailor the year program specifically to your population. Wellness champions are identified from the start to help lead their departments or teams along the way. Each of our 6 steps gets 2 months. For example, “Feb/March Mindfulness” can include newsletters, onsite yoga, a few meditation sessions, as well as suggested meditation apps free of charge to the employees. “Organizational October/November” can utilize our Eisenhower Box both individually and within teams; I suggest companies make time for employees to evaluate and identify physical aspects of their lives that need attention and supply a few hours that week to get it in order. This can be a desk space, supply storage closet, a better email storage system, their cars, a closet at home, etc. Keep it simple and one thing at a time. I strongly recommend that companies and families sign up for community service projects, even if it’s just for a few hours on a Saturday or after work; post it on social media or your company’s website to inspire and encourage others to join in. Offering an EAP to employees free of charge is a great way to help them feel supported, financial healthy, and give them easy access to counseling services. Many employers now offer identity theft protection within an EAP or separately which can “run in the background” and help employees and their families deal with this very common and stressful event if it occurs.
Knowing your population’s preferred ways to learn and track their progress is key. Baby boomers often prefer books or articles, for example, and many millennials need apps and other mobile communications to keep them on track. I suggest a multi-pronged approach so you’re reaching the largest group possible.
Workers and family members often report less stress when they feel supported with the option to reach out or problem solve on their own. We’ve talked about social support’s vital role in our 6 steps to stress prevention, and building our communities in the workplace and in our personal life is key. Stay open to one another and practice those mindful listening skills that are so important to connecting to each other and problem solving. I believe that a 1 year plan for Stress Prevention is a fantastic way for a company or family to kick off long-term wellness goals. Having a “Resilience” month–one of our 6 steps and the long term goal of all Stress Prevention–can include nutritious “lunch & learns” on topics such as gut health, sleep tracking, food education and so much more. I love speaking on this important topic and helping companies and families build their unique 1 year Organizational Stress Prevention plan!