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On-the-Job Stress – Take Control!

Excessive Stress on the jobHow often have your heard a colleague at work groan about the inherent stress of the workplace? Perhaps you hear complaints about how unsupportive the supervisor or the manager is when dealing with the daily workload? Maybe YOU are the one complaining? Or just maybe, YOU are the manager or supervisor who others are complaining about!

Job stress is not a bad thing…unless, of course, you have too much of it for a long period of time. Having some stress is actually good because it releases hormones that can speed up your heart, allow you to breathe faster, and give you a burst of needed energy. As with most everything else in life, stress can be manageable as long as it is in moderation.

Michael Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at Albany State University of New York, recently presented at a conference in Los Angeles about how uncontrolled stress on the job can impact the physical and mental well-being of employees and their families. Though very concerning, organizations can heed this ‘wake-up call’ and avoid an excessive stress-related environment by changing internal practices to reflect a positive culture.

A few key items revealed at this conference (many are quite intuitive, I might add) include:

  • High levels of job stress and work-life stress may result in mental health problems, such as increased levels of depressive symptoms and negative health outcomes. Cardiovascular disease has been a clear link, along with obesity and general physical health complaints from survey participants.
  • Heightened job stress can reduce positive health behaviors, such as healthy eating, exercise, having appropriate sleep, etc.
  • Relationships at home suffer, such as marriage quality and critical time spent with children.

Ford found that people in supportive work environments tend to be more supportive of their spouses and family life. But the one big takeaway from his findings? Managers and supervisors are a primary source of work support – or work stress. (hint-hint!)

According to WebMD, job stress is typically caused by:

  • Lack of control over work or job duties – this can be the biggest cause of stress.
  • Increased responsibilities – too much work to do and saying “No” is not an option.
  • Job satisfaction and performance – not having a meaningful job can be quite stressful.
  • Uncertainty about work roles – Lack of job duty direction.
  • Poor Communication – Not being allowed to talk about needs, concerns and frustrations.
  • Lack of support – If you’re not receiving support from your boss or co-workers, it’s difficult to solve stress-related problems.
  • Poor working conditions – Working in dangerous work areas that are unpleasant.

The above job-related stress issues remind me of our 2007 Iowa Employment Values Study, as posted in our March 2013 blog, “What Iowa Employees Value Most – Lessons to be Learned?” Employees highly value a workplace environment with a family-supportive culture that attempts to control job-related stress. This should make a great deal of sense to any employer, and frankly, it can be implemented in any organization quite easily.

What culture does your organization reflect?

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Lindex® to be Released Soon!

David P. Lind BenchmarkDuring the second week in January, we will be releasing the Lindex score to the general public. In addition, 2012 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© participants who scored above the statewide “average” will receive their Lindex number prior to Christmas. Below is an explanation of the Lindex and why it matters to Iowa employers.

What is the Lindex®?

There is a vast array of employer benefits and insurance options and costs. How do employers know which sets of benefits are best? It is too difficult to take all of these variables into account. The Lindex simplifies this process. The Lindex is a complex algorithm that measures the availability, costs, and use of many key benefits and provides an indexed number between 0 and 100. It permits organizations to benchmark and compare their benefits to those offered by other organizations across Iowa.

Why should an employer use the Lindex®?

Employee benefits data can be both voluminous and complicated for any employer. The Lindex distills this data into one relevant number to provide clarity. Employers alter their benefits offerings as they adapt to changing economic conditions, but when doing so, they have no way of knowing whether such changes may put them at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting and retaining qualified employees. The Lindex simply allows the employer to compare their overall benefit offering to other employers on an on-going basis. As benefit offerings change, the employer will understand their competitive position at all times. All major benefits offered by employers are factored into the Lindex “score.”

How is it calculated?

About 1,000 organizations participate in the Iowa Employer Benefits Study© on an on-going basis each year. The Lindex is calculated from these study results. It is based on a variety of factors including types of benefits offered and employee costs associated with those benefits. The Lindex ranges from 0 to 100, with low scores indicating fewer and more expensive benefits, and higher scores indicating more benefits being offered at a lower cost.

How do organizations interpret the Lindex®?

As stated, the Lindex ranges from 0 to 100. A higher score indicates that an organization offers its employees more benefits at lower costs. However, benchmarking is important. The Lindex is calculated annually statewide and for each of several industries. An organization can assess their benefits compared to others in their industry throughout the state. For example, an organization with a Lindex of 68 might appear to be somewhat low, but if this score is above the average Lindex score for similar organizations then it could be considered a good score for your organization.

Why can employers trust the Lindex®?

Since 1999, David P. Lind and Data Point Research have conducted over 10,000 interviews with Iowa organizations. Depending upon the benefits offered by each organization, over 250 variables have been collected. That is a lot of information! When combined with the other research conducted, such as the Iowa Employment Values Study© and the professional expertise of David P. Lind Benchmark, the Lindex is an accurate, unbiased summary on employee benefits in Iowa.

How can the Lindex® help employers?

The Lindex provides benefits information from organizations throughout Iowa that can be used to assess, compare and improve your benefits offerings. Organizations can use their Lindex score as a recruiting tool to attract and retain high quality employees. Others can use it to determine whether benefits changes are required to keep their benefit offerings competitive with similar organizations.

How frequently is the Lindex® calculated?

On a statewide level, the Lindex is calculated once a year. New industry-level Lindices are published in addition to Lindices for the four Iowa Congressional Districts. New Lindices will be segmented by employer size, industry, as well as by congressional district.

This new measurement is not only unique to Iowa but to the country as a whole. Stay tuned for more information after the holidays!

To learn more, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

What Iowa Employees REALLY Want

David P. Lind BenchmarkRaises? Vacations? Insurance? Ever asked your employees what’s important to them? You might be surprised.

In 2007, our firm undertook the Iowa Employment Values Study©. This study illustrates many opportunities for executives to improve employee satisfaction, even in tough times, with a limited budget.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Aretha nailed it. Being appreciated and valued is the number one workplace value for employees.

Question: “What is the one main thing your organization could do better?”

The consistent answer:  “Show appreciation for hard work.”

The cost: Better communication.

Employees want their employers to open channels of communication and recognize (acknowledge) hard workers. The study revealed that having better communication within the organization is essential to employees’ overall positive perceptions of their jobs.

High-quality communication improves virtually every aspect of employee opinion, our research found, and employers should provide plenty of opportunities for meaningful feedback from employees.

The payback: Employees who know they’re valued are proud of their organization and are significantly more positive about ALL aspects of their job.

Employees value RESPECT and ACHIEVEMENT most at work versus what their bosses think they value most. Other than the two top values, bosses clearly underestimated the order and importance of each workplace value.

Here’s the disturbing trend:  Bosses consistently underestimate the importance of a well-rounded lifestyle to their employees.

These workplace values describe organizational culture. Creating and maintaining a positive culture is the DNA of any successful organization. Understanding what employees really want is key to a positive work environment and loyalty among your workforce. What values are strongly reflected in your organization?