Research shows that moderate levels of stress are healthy and improve productivity while too much or too little stress is damaging to performance, sometimes severely.
Resilience is a way of combating stressors in your life. We define it as people’s developable capacity to adapt to change, adversity and stressors in a way that not only allows a person to bounce back, but also grow and improve from the experience.
Statistics that are emerging from the American Psychological Association paint a clear picture – employees are experiencing heightened and even dangerous levels of stress.
• 69 percent of employees report that work is a significant source of stress.
• 51 percent of employees say they are less productive due to stress. For example, they have difficulty focusing on tasks, they make more errors or miss deadlines.
• 52 percent of employees say that stress impacts career decisions. That is, they have considered or made a decision about their careers such as looking for a new job, declining a promotion, or leaving a job based on workplace stress.
Most of the world’s population spends at least a third of their adult life at work. With workplace environments contributing to stress, anxiety and burn-out in employees, it is clear that employers must engage in new efforts to cultivate positive and healthy workplaces. While stress is nothing new, in today’s workplace a high level of personal stress has been the norm. When people are feeling overwhelmed, they are unable to cope with adversity and are often paralyzed by inaction. This decreases productivity and increases other personal and organizational costs like health care and expenses related to absenteeism.
We work in a world where change is constant and inevitable. Resiliency skills are critical. Being flexible, and using practical strategies for altering those patterns of stress responses is imperative. Studies show, (conducted by PwC in 2018) initiatives and programs that foster a resilient and mentally healthy workplace, on return, can expect a positive return on investment of $2.30. That is, for every dollar spent on successfully implementing an appropriate action, there is on average $2.30 in benefits to be gained by the organization—with the return coming in the form of lower heath care costs, higher productivity, lower absenteeism and decreased turn over.
The key to lowering stress and being more resilient is time management and preparation. When prioritizing value-added actions and planning goals for personal productivity, consider the following points:
1. Values — Decide what’s important to you, and in what order. Make sure your values don’t conflict with work. Energy spent worrying diminishes your abilities.
2. Consequences — Every action has consequences … good and bad. Consider what rewards you’d reap by completing a task. Then, compare those rewards with the consequences of putting it aside. This process makes it easier to see which goals have a higher value.
3. The Pareto Principle — Vilfredo Pareto, a 19th-century engineer, argued that 20 percent of your work drives 80 percent of your outcomes. When considering the importance of a task, ask yourself whether it’s among the 20 percent that creates the most value.
4. Urgency vs. importance — An unexpected phone call or a drop-in visitor may be urgent, but the consequences of dealing with either may not be important in the long run. The urgent is other-oriented; it’s caused by someone else. Important things are self-directed and have the greatest value for you.
5. The limiting step — Standing between you and what you want to achieve is called the limiting step. That’s the bottleneck that determines how quickly you can reach your goal. It’s important to identify that step and focus single-mindedly on getting that one thing done.
6. A written plan — Lists of goals, tasks and objectives are of no help unless they’re written. Putting plans on paper makes a seemingly elusive goal more concrete. There’s a connection that takes place between the brain and the hand. When you don’t write it down, it’s fuzzy, but as you write it and revise it, it becomes clear.
7. Visualization — See yourself doing what you need to get done. Visualization trains the subconscious to focus on completing tasks. Want to begin each morning by exercising? Start by visualizing doing sit-ups and push-ups the night before. This helps condition the mind to do them the next day. When you prime your mind, it wakes you up even before the alarm clock goes off.
Remember, you are a winner and preparation goes a long way in helping you achieve a stress free lifestyle.