Sandy Reminds Us of The Need for Workplace Stress Monitoring

That is my beloved Mac computer (I’m a Mac girl) charging on a garbage canister at a fast food restaurant. It was the best I could do during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. After five days working in the newsroom, I needed a day off to focus on other things (although I missed being at work as there was plenty of food, electricity, warm bathrooms and understanding camaraderie). I was stressing about paying bills on-line, blog posts, clients, an interview with a national radio show which was ironically interviewing me on workplace stress.

I couldn’t eat another nibble of fast food, but this franchise had live electric plugs, high speed internet and oddly enough a large screen tuned into my TV station with wall-to-wall coverage. Those items were taken for granted, and were now a rare find. Once I identified this spot, my stress dissipated.

Funny how the small things matter in a time of crisis. For companies going through the recovery process, an awareness of an employee’s disposition and stress levels are crucial for operations to go smoothly. Little things which provide comfort, matter a lot. During crisis workers want to know that their company cares about their well-being. But what about during normal business hours when there is no crisis?

In a struggling economy in which productivity and creativity are important drivers to compete, taking the pulse of worker stress is something that should happen more often.

In her post at Forbes.com, If You Never Anticipated An Event Like Hurricane Sandy, What Do You Do Now? Stephanie Balaouras, Vice President, Research Director at Forrester, wrote that, “While it’s too late to implement many measures to improve resiliency, there are several things you can do now to help your organization return to normal operations ASAP.”  Among the suggestions, was this:

“It’s important to recognize that employees handle stress differently and under extended periods of stress, people can make poor decisions. Be sure to monitor stress levels and give employees time to sleep, eat and relax – don’t work them around the clock during the crisis.”

It’s a needed reminder for management which is often under a lot of pressure on a good day. We stress test global economies to gauge how they will do under the pressure of monetary crisis and shifts. Large companies assess their risk in that global economy. Those is the corner office examine their profit and loss statements looking for risky expenditures. Management focuses on bottom-line needs anticipating uncertainty. Why don’t we pay more attention to the human capital cogs in the wheel of commerce?

I suppose whether you are in a C-Suite, or a cubicle, we’re all in the same boat. The workforce is stretched. As I wrote in my Forbes.com post, Employee Brain on Stress can Quash Creativity and Creative Edge, more than 40% of workers reported chronic stress in a recent American Psychological Association Survey and 70% say that work is a significant source of stress.

Should companies be monitoring the stress of its employees? Is it just good business to do so in a competitive marketplace?

 

 

  • Vicki Brown

    I wish they would, especially because a lot of employees, especially the Introverts, are more stressed _at_ the office. Cubicles, low walls, no walls, cell phones, meetings, people walking by, fluorescent lights, long days, bad commutes. What’s not to stress about?

    • http://twitter.com/judymartin8 Judy Martin

      Vicki, you make some really important points…environmental modification is key!