Saturday, February 13, 2010

Are You Doing the Right Kind of Stress Management (link)

About a year and half a go, Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global-wide consulting firm, surveyed employers and discovered that stress was the number one reason employees quit their jobs.

Watson Wyatt is a major benefits consulting firm, so their interest was in learning more about this workplace issue. They discovered that most employers weren't doing much about stress. Two surveys conducted by Watson Wyatt confirmed it.

The strange thing is that most employers did not cite stress as the key reason employees quit. Stress did not make it into the top five reasons. Most employers listed things like insufficient pay, lack of career development, or poor supervisor relationships as the reasons employees quit. Employees were saying it was other things.

The bottom line is that if you are doing stress management in companies and want to make the most impact, you must target the source of stress in your EAP interventions. According to the research from Watson Wyatt, the target sources of stress that increase the risk of employees leaving include the following, some of which you may be able to address, and others, perhaps not.

Note: The second number is the percentage of employers acting to help employees with this stress related issue.

Long hours, doing more with less - 48% of employees say this is a problem. (Only 5% of employers doing anything about it.)
Work/Life Balance - 32% (16%)
Technologies that expand work - 29% (6%)
Manager's inability to recognized stress - 24% (7%)
Manager's inability to find solutions for stress - 20% (14%)
Extra time, hassles related to security - 8% (2%)
Safety fears - 5% (27%)

The numbers give some clues. It may be easy to focus on dealing with security or saftey fears of employees, but there may be nothing employers can do to help employees who are forced to do more with less. The interesting set of numbers above is "Manager's Inability to Recognize Stress". It's rated high as an employee complaint, but it is low as a point of intervention from the employer's perspective.

There is appreciable room to help managers and supervisors understand stress better, its effects, the impact it has on employees, what to do about it, signs and symptoms in employees, and factors associated with supevisor-supervisee communiation that undoubtedly contributed to it.

When doing stress management consider laser targeted interventions to be more effective. Source: Press Release, "Few Employers Address Workplace Stress", contact Steven Arnoff at