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Times have changed in the workplace; no more “gold watch” and a pension (except for the CEO). Companies upsize, then downsize, are swallowed up by larger corporations, go bankrupt, or grow into mega-businesses with yet more anonymous employees hired on to replace their aging ( and expensive) tenured workers. It’s no wonder so many workers are stressed and anxious about their employment today and tomorrow. Recent estimates note that job stress costs U. S. business more than $300 billion a year ($7500 per worker) in absenteeism, compensation claims, increased health insurance costs, and lowered productivity. Even when on the job, worker’s poor mental outlook and mounting stress takes a significant toll. A study performed a few years ago defined "presenteeism" as the invisible loss as workers are at work but are unable to function to their potential due to ailments such as depression, fatigue, backaches, headaches, and stomach maladies. These cost employers more than $180 billion annually in lost productivity; as the president of one company puts it, "When my key manager is stressed out and frazzled, he can’t be productive even though he shows up for work every day." Successful companies now see the value in proactive corporate stress management.

Why Pay The Stress Price?
The workplace that was formerly a refuge from the outside world’s chaos now bears the brunt of its impact on workers and management alike. More data reflecting this changing phenomena shows:
  • Corporate efforts to increase productivity that require longer work hours means growing psychological demands on employees.
  • The need to gather, analyze and apply increasingly larger amounts of information effectively.
  • Rising job insecurity
  • Demographic shifts: aging workers, more women in the workforce as well as a growing population of ethnic and racial minorities entering employment ranks.
  • The challenge for working men and women both in balancing their obligations to work and family.
  • Workplace stress has serious health consequences; t he six major causes of death in the U.S: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide, as well as immune response and deficiency, memory loss and obesity are clearly linked to stress.
  • Unmanageable anger in the workplace, a symptom of stress and frustration that results in nearly two million instances of workplace assaults per year, has become a leading cause of firings and is now a greater factor than job incompetence.

Corporate Stress Solutions
The modern corporation now understands that stress in the workplace is the number one controllable factor affecting productivity, missed workdays, and rising healthcare costs. Business HR departments are using a variety of traditional and innovative remedies in their corporate stress management strategies:
  • Analysis – scrutinize and identify problem areas and potential “stress zones” that could degrade the company's mission, goals and work environment. This focused examination of stress and anxiety factors affecting the people, strategies, approaches and priorities of the business can direct targeted long- and short-term corrective action.
  • Training/Counseling Resources – Some companies offer in-house stress management training or one-on-one counseling sessions, others find it more effective to outsource this solution. Either way, management staff and workforce labor can be given not only tools to deal with the usual day-to-day problems, but also the means to defuse high-anxiety issues before they escalate into an injurious or even lethal reaction.
  • Employee Health Initiatives – the corporate cost/benefit ratio benefits of a healthy workforce are clear. Companies are now including exercise and physical recreation facilities along with their HMO or PPO plans. They’re also incorporating yoga, meditation, and massage into stress-relieving strategies.

Although the employment landscape has certainly changed as it reflects a shifting global economy, maintaining the well-being of the workforce that is the engine driving our economy can only benefit us all.
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