What is organizational success?
- It depends on who you ask and how they define success in their particular organization. If you ask commercial business managers, their answer most likely will be “profitability” and if you ask homeless shelter managers, their answer may be “feed as many people as we can each day”. Regardless of the type of organization, leaders achieve organizational success by setting goals, some tactical, some medium, some long term, and some Big Hairy Audacious Goals. With goals established, leaders then focus on creating a working environment that motivates their people to perform, as a team, to the best of their ability to achieve the goals.
- There are many barriers to achieving the organization’s goals: employee performance, economy, competition, resources available, technology, government regulations, etc. The list of barriers is long; some the organization has control over and some they don’t.
- One of the most important and expensive barriers to “employee performance” and “teamwork” is stress — work related stress and, equally important, the employee’s “personal” stress. Personal stress affects the workplace; workplace stress affects the employee’s personal life.
- Everyone has stress in their lives: you, your family, your friends, your peers, co-workers, everyone you know!
“Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it.” (Lily Tomlin (actress, comedian, winner of the Mark Twain prize for humor)
- Preventing and reducing workplace stress, coupled with recognizing and addressing employee personal stress, is at the core of organizational success.
- Stress management is a leadership responsibility, not an employee assistance program. Preventing workplace stress is a leadership imperative!
Six Questions and Answers about Stress
1. What is Stress?
- Stress is an internal process that occurs when a person is faced with a demand that is perceived to exceed the resources available to effectively respond to it, and where failure to effectively deal with the demand has important and undesirable consequences.
2. Is Stress a Problem for Organizations? Yes
33% of job burnout is blamed on stress
85% of all office visits to family physicians are due to stress related symptoms
64% of Americans say they are taking steps to reduce stress in their lives
The nature of work is changing at whirlwind speed. Perhaps now more than ever before, job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health of organizations. — U. S. Center for Disease Control
40% –Percentage of workers who report their job is “very or extremely stressful.”– Survey by Northwestern National Life
26% — Percentage of workers who report they are “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work.” —Survey by the Families and Work Institute
29% — Percentage of workers who report they feel “quite a bit or extremely stressed at work.” — Survey by Yale University
Job stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workplace, leaving few workers untouched. For example, studies report the following:
• One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.— Northwestern National Life
• Three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.—Princeton Survey Research Associates
• Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor—more so than even financial problems or family problems. —St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co.
Healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress. —Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
3. Is Stress Dangerous to your Health? Yes
- Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death:
heart disease cancer lung ailments accidents cirrhosis of the liver suicide
4. Is Stress Costly? Yes
- $300 billion annually is spent on stress-related absenteeism, reduced productivity, insurance costs, medical costs, compensation claims, and employee turnover
- Each year the costs are rising, for the employer, employee, family, society, and the government at all levels
- The rising costs are resulting in additional stress, workplace and personal
5. Is Stress Harmful to the Individual/Employee and the Organization? Yes
- To the Individual/Employee
- Can become irritable, lethargic, anxious, depressed
- Cannot concentrate or focus, decreased motivation
- To the Organization
- Decreases team morale, motivation, and discipline
- Short circuits team and member innovation, creativity, communication, coordination and cooperation
- Decreases individual and team productivity
6. Is Stress Progressive? Yes
- Stress is the starting point on the downward progression of stress to anger to depression to suicide
- Stress leads to Anger
- Anger turned outward is violence (focused toward family, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc.)
- Anger turned inward is depression (focused toward self-harm, alcohol abuse, cutting, etc.)
- Depression turned inward is suicide (focused toward finding a solution – getting out!)
- Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. People commit suicide to stop the pain!
What Everyone Needs to Know and Remember!
- There is a downward progression from stress to anger to depression to attempted suicide, suicide, and murder/suicide.
- Stress is manageable Anger is controllable Depression is treatable Suicide is preventable
- Learning to manage your own stress and being in a supportive environment is the best “solution”.
- Addressing stress is easier, quicker results, less painful for everyone, and less expensive than the professional treatment required for anger management, depression or suicide prevention.
What works for Stress?
- The beginning of the stress is the best place to start addressing the problem and is the easiest level to affect change in an individual’s stressing situation. In today’s society, many individuals are experiencing multiple levels of increased stress and they often lack the communication or analytical skills to identify and address the extent of their stress. Individuals experiencing high stress levels can be adversely affected at work, at home, and in their community.
- Dealing with stress in today’s complex world requires knowledge and tools plus critical thinking and application skills.
- The three components to successfully recognizing, responding to, and building resilience to stress are:
- Understanding self (perceptions, personality, and stressors and their interrelatedness)
- Developing a dynamic, flexible plan and being able to successfully execute and adjust the plan
- Building a personal and professional stress support network
- ESC developed the 4L Approach© to equip leaders and individuals with the knowledge and tools to address stress using a preventive approach, and, most importantly, to build resilience to protect themselves against future stress through a self-sustained program.
The 4L Approach© is designed:
- To help leaders, groups and individuals learn to deal with work related and personal stress
- To help individuals know how to respond to stress in other people’s lives
- To provide organizations and individuals a common language and framework to discuss and address stress
- To be used in business, counseling, education, government, healthcare, military and religious organizations
- To learn more about The 4L Approach© Program
Contact ESC at 270-873-7433 or email