Workplace Stress: Reconnecting Disengaged Employees

"How do you reconnect the strands to weave a net that recaptures the heart and imagination of your disengaged employees?"

The short answer: systematically.

The more lengthy answer is to implement a system-wide program that teaches people how to undress their stress by treating the cause of their stress, not just the symptoms.

In 1936, Hans Selye, a Canadian researcher, defined stress as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change". In other words, it is perception that determines how you deal with stress, and whether or not you activate the stress response.

To elaborate, stress can be defined as your interpretation of external events that can cause internal distortion or strain. How that distortion or strain manifests could be as varied as the number of people in your department, hence Selye's use of the word "non-specific".

Stressed out employees don't perform well. If employees figuratively (or literally) cross their arms, they resist. Their ability to change, access wisdom and be adaptable decreases.

Some signs and symptoms of stress:

Do you possess any of these qualities? Perhaps this far-from-complete list reflects the prevalent attitude in your workplace. It's never too late for a do-over, though. When people are given tools and techniques to help them dam the flow of fourteen-hundred chemicals that cascade during stressful times, positive changes can and do occur.

Benefits include:

  • Feelings of lightness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood sugar reading
  • Fewer aches and pains
  • Better problem-solving skills
  • More creativeness
  • Sharper focus
  • Sharpened communication skills
  • Cultivated environment of collaboration
  • Improved morale
  • Increased responsiveness to customer/client needs

Wouldn't you concur that when the people in your organization are performing optimally, the organization performs better? Companies are recognizing that when their employees are able to shift out of stress - in the moment when stress is occurring - and into a balanced state, the work environment changes, naturally. Cortisol, the stress hormone, and other hormones continue to flow, which negatively impacts performance, often with dire consequences.

Companies are recognizing the value of an alphabet of benefit programs ranging from acupuncture to zen. What all these programs have in common is how they make people feel. It's through feelings that stress is over-ridden. Equip employees with the "auntie"-dote - stress techniques and tools that can be deployed anywhere, anytime. Why force them to await their next appointment, weekend, or vacation?

In an article in The Globe and Mail, Dr. de Carufel of the Schulich School of Business at York University was quoted as saying that people need to "see and feel the effects" of what they're doing. In other words, they want to know that they are making a contribution, that their efforts count and that they matter. As S. Emerson commented in Much Ado about Employee Disengagement, it is about attitudes (and emotions). Like it or not (even that generates emotion), feelings matter.

Corporations would do well to cultivate a culture of care and compassion; one where employees feel that their contributions are of value and that they are an important part of the success of the company.

Which brings us back to stress transformation. Consider it a booster shot that enhances performance, boosts immunity - stress dampens natural killer cell cytotoxic activity, which affects the immune system and provides protection from viral infections and cancer cells - and revitalizes employees.

Disengagement does not thrive in an environment that allows for career advancement, and is described as caring, supportive and collaborative. An environment that encourages involvement, the antithesis to disengagement, can be fostered. Systematically.

Reflection and Action

Is input and innovation encouraged? See The Fate of Ideas on Rick Ross' blog for why this is necessary and important.

What type of work atmosphere do you want to encourage in your workplace? Why is it vital to the health and well-being of the employees and the company to provide on-demand stress transformation techniques?

Let's discuss how you can reset the course of your company by resetting your nervous system.

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