How to Succeed in Business

Overcoming stress and anxiety at the workplace

Posted Feb 11, 2019

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Success
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, $1,685 per employee. This is in addition to the loss of productivity due to low morale and presenteeism.   

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are free to employees from many large, medium and small businesses, yet notoriously underutilized. Chestnut Global Partners reports a high utilization rate of 6.5 percent for 2016, with an average of 2.9 counseling sessions. Marital issues top the list with 16.4 percent, stress 16.2 percent, and anxiety 14 percent.

Benefits Quarterly reports even lower utilization rates, ranging from below 1 percent to a high of 5%. Although more than 70 percent of businesses provide EAP services, often in addition to health insurance, utilization initiatives have failed to address the impact of stigma. It’s not just the concern employees have of being seen as “mentally weak,” unable to cope with the pressures of their jobs or lives outside work, but also being stereotyped and discriminated against should they be diagnosed with a mental illness.

Health insurance currently recognizes mental health as important as physical health, which may lead to thinking that, like diabetes, you either have it or you don’t. Such thinking prevents mental health from being seen as existing along a continuum, with situational stress, worry, and anxiety on one end and diagnosable mental illness on the other end.  Yet both ends may contribute to poor work performance on a given day. 

While EAPs remain the best choice for dealing with those who may be constantly distracted by feelings of stress, anxiety, and worry, EAPs have simply not been able to overcome stigma. Nor have EAPs addressed employee problematic behavior—spending work time on personal affairs, texting, sitting idle, talking with and distracting others.

What is missing, I believe, is company morale, the bedrock of success. The first step is to facilitate a companywide one or two-hour training session that engages employees with an opportunity to focus on the positive elements of mental health, rather than the negativity that comes with stress, anxiety, and anger.

PsychResilience Training is a self-help approach that provides employees with a paradigm for taking responsibility for their own mental health, along with a sense of camaraderie, if not empathy for others, instantly invalidating the EPA stigma.

This training, along with an EAP, provides a less top-down and more compatible delivery system for employee mental health and company morale than currently available.    

This blog was co-published with PsychReiliience.com.