Stress in the Workplace... wake up to it!
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Stress in the Workplace… wake up to it!

I couldn’t help but notice the change in Joe. The typically talkative and cheerful co-worker has become grumpy and dismissive over the last few weeks. This is how my conversation with an HR manager began. She was calling me to run a Wellbeing and Mental Health training for her staff and wanting me to answer the questions of “What should we be looking out for and how can we help?”

Joe was always the first to arrive at work, and among the last to leave. But then he started coming into work later and later, and was often in a rush to leave at the end of the day, too.  Eventually, after a few months, Joe handed in his notice and left.

Joe was suffering from stress, something that’s all too common in modern, high-demand workplaces. If this had been recognized and the people around him knew how to support him, he might have been able to get help and might still be with the company.

I want to help you learn how to identify stress in others, and explore a five-step strategy for tactfully offering your support, without becoming overburdened yourself.

How to Identify Stress in your Colleagues

Stress is what happens when the demands placed on someone exceed what he or she can readily cope with.

While a certain amount of pressure is a part of everyday life, and can actually help people to perform better, too much pressure can cause stress to build.

Even if your organization has a policy on mental health and an active HR manager or team, it’s most likely a friend or co-worker who’ll be the first person to notice a change in someone’s behavior that could indicate stress.

Signs of stress can include: 

  • Snapping at colleagues.
  • Losing concentration.
  • Putting off decisions.
  • Restlessness.
  • Emotional volatility.
  • Anxiety.
  • Erratic behavior.

Why Giving Support Matters

Even when you know that someone is suffering from stress, it can be difficult to broach the subject. You might be scared of causing offence, making it worse, or causing the other person to become angry or emotional. 

But offering your support can be a crucial first step in battling the often serious mental and physical problems caused by excessive stress, such as burnout, depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, and even heart disease (yes, you read that correctly!).

The problems caused by stress can also go beyond the individual who is suffering. It can begin to impact his or her performance at work, forcing others to “pick up the slack,” and relationships to break down.

Your support can help to the ease the impact of these “side effects” and to keep team relationships strong.

How to Support a Stressed Co-Worker

Here’s are 5 short, sharp and simple suggestions to help a colleague who is suffering from stress:

  1. Establish a Connection
  2. Find out if something else is going on 
  3. Suggest Practical Ways Forward (there’s heaps…feel free to contact me to discuss more)
  4. Offer Friendship
  5. Take care of yourself (I LOVE talking about Self-Care) 

Research shows that stress can have a “ripple effect” on the people that are close to the sufferer. Learning the skills to recognise the signs and symptoms and then take the next step towards helping people is paramount for any organisation.

By Amanda Lambros, Relationships, Mental Health, Grief and Loss Speaker and Counsellor, and Vice President MAREAA.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health.
 

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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It is in every company’s best financial interest to support employees and to invest in the promotion of Relationship Education and Family Wellness programs

If relationship education and family wellness improves a company’s overall financial health and increases profitability, it is then in every company’s best financial interest to support employees and to invest in the promotion of relationship education and family wellness programs at work (Turvey et al, 2006). To amplify the happiness and confidence of employees and to increase a company’s overall financial health and to maximise business potential, relationship education and family wellness programs can make a difference.

Various studies have demonstrated that employees who are happy in all aspects of their lives are more productive employees and hence improving relationships in and out of work is vital, for individuals, couples and families and for society. This suggests that the integration of marriage and relationship education and family wellness programs must be an economically driven priority.

Evidence shows that happily couples are more loyal and stable employees, have reduced job turnover rates, have lower rates of absenteeism, and are generally considered more dependable and motivated and have greater levels of engagement (Lavy, G. 2002). Another study found that when dual-income couples are happy, they have a greater level of commitment to their employers (Curtis, 2006).

Reflecting on the benefits of healthy relationships and family life to organisations, relationship education and family wellness programs should contain (or be extended with) a specific focus and integration of marriage and family wellness programs’ for those employees who are married or in a relationship to contribute to the overall productivity and profitability of businesses.

In order to help couple families and companies develop strategies to deal with the multiple demands on employees and their personal relationships, it is vital to devise and implement policies to enable employees to have healthy, functional personal relationships, and be fully engaged at work.

Tune in next week for more discussion about the Benefits of Relationship Education and Family Wellness Programs for Business Productivity.

References:

  • Curtis, J., 2006: The Business of Love. IOD Press: Florida.
    Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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More than 40 percent of all workers face high stress in their job, negatively affecting their productivity, health and family stability

High work stress and overload is often correlated with less positive relationships in and out of work, and while the issue of highly stressed workers is not new, the relentless pace of business today has made the problem worse (Schwartz, J et al, 2014). Driven by the always-on nature of digital business and 24/7 working styles, studies show that more than 40 percent of all workers face high stress in their job, negatively affecting their productivity, health and family stability (EKU Online, 2018).

Stress can be a two-way street between work and home where the subsequent stress from failing marriages begins to manifest in the workplace, increasing stress, leading to more stress at home, and the cycle continues. Learning and using healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals respond to stress in healthier ways.

Tackling the pressures and strains being experienced by Australian organisations, individuals, couples and families, leading companies are developing strategies that address societal concerns such as longevity and wellbeing, and the multiple demands on employees and their personal relationships. To enable employees to have healthy, functional personal relationships, and be fully engaged at work, employers are investing in Relationship Education and Wellbeing programs as both a social responsibility and a talent strategy. Highlighting the mutually positive benefits that a healthy dynamic between work and home-life can bring, this investment can help improve productivity and performance.

Relationship Education and Family Wellness programs are widely available to couples, intended to reduce the prevalence of relationship distress, divorce and the associated personal and social costs (Halford, W.K., et al 2003). Quickly learned and easily adapted, these programs have been proven effective in a variety of communities, cultures, and languages.

Well-being is becoming a core responsibility of good corporate citizenship and a critical performance strategy to drive employee engagement, organisational energy, and productivity (Agarwal, D. et al, 2018). If relationship education and family wellness improves a company’s overall financial health and increases profitability, it is then in every company’s best financial interest to support employees and to invest in the promotion of family wellness programs at work (Turvey et al, 2006).

Tune in next week for a discussion about work stress and home life stress and how both may impact negatively for businesses.

References:

  • Agarwal, D., Bersin, J., Lahiri, G., Schwartz, J., and Volini, E., 2018: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: The Rise of the Social Enterprise, 28 March 2018

  • EKU Online, ‘Work-related stress on employees health’, March 2, 2018

  • Halford, W.K., Markman, H, J., Galena, H,.K.,  and Stanley, S.M., 2003: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, July, Vol. 29, No. 3, p385-406
  • Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Separation and divorce represents a major life stressor that impacts work performance, resulting increased absenteeism and presenteeism, decreased health, increased anxiety and stress

Relationship quality at work or home is often a cause for decreased productivity – productivity impacted directly by work conflict or relationship breakdown.

We know work conflict between leaders and employees can have a significant impact on performance, however outside of work, where failing, unhealthy relationships or those in relational decline, businesses tend to bear the consequences in a variety of ways.

Despite the changes in community attitudes and family patterns, separation and divorce still represents a major life stressor for the individuals involved (Australian Psychological Society, 2018). Typically involving economic stress, with new residence arrangements, moving schools and work, and increased travel, separation and divorce exerts financial demands that can have flow-on effects for parent and child wellbeing (Smyth, 2004), and ultimately work performance.

Failing relationships at home can lead to affairs in the workplace, and up to 25% of these relationships lead to decreased productivity, and once couples divorce, this can disrupt the productivity of an individual worker for as long as three years (Lavy, 2002).

One study found that in the year following divorce, employees lost an average of over 168 hours of work time, equivalent to being fully absent four weeks in one calendar year (Mueller, 2005), this means that recently divorced employees are absent from work due to relationship-related reasons for over 8% of their annual time on the job (Turvey et al, 2006 p7).

While the financial implications of separation differ for men and women, women and single parent families typically experience significant economic disadvantage after separation (Austen, 2004; Cairney, Boyle, Offord & Racine, 2003; Smyth, 2004; Smyth & Weston, 2000) and these effects have direct implications for the workplace.

Primarily, as employees experience stress, their physical health suffers and they tend to have lower immune functioning (Waite and Gallagher, 2000). Relationship stress tends to spill over into job functioning, resulting increased absenteeism and presenteeism (being physically present but mentally absent), decreased health, increased anxiety and stress, and increased health insurance costs (Turvey et al, 2006 p7-8).

In order to help couple families, it is vital that companies develop strategies to deal with the multiple demands on employees and their personal relationships and implement policies to enable employees to have healthy, functional personal relationships, and be fully engaged at work.

Tune in next week for a discussion about work stress and home life stress and how both may impact negatively for businesses.

References:

  • Austen, S. 2004: Labour supply and the risk of divorce: An analysis of Australian data. Australian Economic Review, 37(2), 153-165.
  • Australian Psychological Society 2018; Child Wellbeing After Parental Separation, A Position Statement prepared for the Australian Psychological Society by the APS Public Interest Team.
  • Burnett, S. B, Coleman, L, Houlston, C and Reynolds, J., 2015: Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces – Summary Report of research findings. OnePlusOne and Working Families UK
  • Cairney, J., Boyle, M., Offord, D. R., & Racine, Y. 2003: Stress, social support and depression in single and married mothers. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 38(8), 442-449.
  • Mueller, R. 2005: The effect of marital dissolution on the labour supply of males and females: Evidence from Canada.” Journal of Socio-Economics, 34, 787-809.
  • Smyth, B. 2004: Parent-child contact and post-separation parenting arrangements. Melbourne Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Smyth, B., &; Weston, R. 2000: Financial living standards after divorce. Family Matters(55), 11-15.
  • Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN
  • Waite, L., & Gallagher, M. 2000: The case for marriage. New York: Doubleday.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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To support higher levels of work engagement, employees adopting flexible working need support in managing the interface between work and home-life

A stable, positive home/family life was shown to enable people to be more engaged in their work, with the resulting reduction in Work-Family Conflict, improving Work Engagement scores. Furthermore, a stable, positive home/family life has been shown to improve Relationship Quality, which, in turn, may predict higher levels of Work Engagement, creating a virtuous cycle.

The headline finding in a 2015 UK study (Burnett et al: 2015) found that there was a positive association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement that exists independently of the other work-centric, relationship-centric and socio-demographic factors. That is, high Relationship Quality would extend to improvements in Work Engagement. Likewise, improvements in Work Engagement would predict increases in Relationship Quality.

To support higher levels of work engagement, employees adopting flexible working need support in managing the interface between work and home-life given the association with Relationship Quality.

This UK study shows that it is in the employers’ interest to do what they can to maintain or improve levels of Relationship Quality among their staff to improve productivity and performance. This could range from creating more family-friendly workplaces, offering paid parental leave, flexible working arrangements and personal leave for caring responsibilities and mental health care.

Additionally, by offering online relationship support or counselling through to having support available for those that could face relationship difficulties in the future (such as those becoming parents for the first time), can make a significant impact on work engagement.

Following are a some (but not all) of the pitfalls employers need to observe to ensure work engagement is maximised:

  • Employers need to ensure that flexible working does not become ‘all the time working’, preventing expectations that employees are permanently available.
  • Employers should avoid the assumption that women will not want to focus on their careers if they have children, additionally ensuring that they monitor the effects of discrimination and unconscious bias.
  • Employers should observe and monitor men to ensure that flexible working policies are aligned and communicated in such a way that men are able to access them equally, without concern over it damaging their career.

Based on this evidence, employers are encouraged to view Relationship Quality as an asset, and one that requires investment.

Tune in next week for a discussion about work stress and home life stress and how both may impact negatively for businesses.

References:

  • Burnett, S. B, Coleman, L, Houlston, C and Reynolds, J., 2015: Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces – Summary Report of research findings. OnePlusOne and Working Families UK

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Research has found that there is a positive association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement, independent of the other work-centric, relationship-centric and socio-demographic factors

For the employee and for businesses, research suggests that happy employees increase profitability and have the potential through strengthened relationships at home and with business partners to accelerate business growth (Turvey et al, 2006).

In a UK study of British organisations, individuals, couples and families (Burnett et al: 2015), the researchers highlighted the mutually positive benefits that a healthy dynamic between work and home-life can bring and how an increased understanding about the connection between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement. They found that the association between Relationship Quality and well-being is now recognised as unequivocal.

This is especially pertinent at a time of increased divorce rates and declining marriage rates and the increased projections of the proportion of relationships likely to separate. Additionally, the increased likelihood of cohabiting relationships breaking down compared to those married and the subsequent increases in the number of children experiencing the separation of their cohabiting parents and the impact on the level of relationship quality, raises complex and competing factors for couples and their children and the workforce.

Research suggests that cohabitation prior to marriage is usually associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction and where children are involved, higher levels of family instability are experienced in the first 12 years of children’s lives (DeRose et al, 2017).

The UK researchers identified the following five factors associated with Relationship Quality:

  1. Work Engagement: those who were more engaged at work reported better Relationship Quality with their partner;
  2. Parental-status: Parents had lower Relationship Quality than non-parents;
  3. Work-Family Conflict: Those with greater levels of Work-Family Conflict (work-life impacting on family-life) reported worse Relationship Quality;
  4. Family-Work Conflict: Those with greater levels of Family-Work Conflict (family-life impacting on work-life) reported worse Relationship Quality;
  5. Flexibility: Those who worked flexibly reported lower levels of Relationship Quality compared to those who do not.

The headline finding in the UK study (Burnett et al: 2015) found that there was a positive association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement that exists independently of the other work-centric, relationship-centric and socio-demographic factors. That is, high Relationship Quality would extend to improvements in Work Engagement. Likewise, improvements in Work Engagement would predict increases in Relationship Quality.

Tune in next week to understand how the Value of Healthy Couple Families to Business.

References:

  • Burnett, S. B, Coleman, L, Houlston, C and Reynolds, J., 2015: Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces – Summary Report of research findings. OnePlusOne and Working Families UK
  • DeRose, L. Lyons-Amos, M.; Wilcox, W.B.; and Huarcaya, G. 2017: The Cohabitation-go-round: Cohabitation and Family Stability Across the Globe, Social Trends Institute, World Family Map 2017
    Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf
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When relationships go wrong, couple distress is strongly linked to problems with individual health and well-being

For the employee and for businesses, research suggests that happily married employees increase profitability (Turvey et al, 2006), and have the potential through strengthened relationships at home and with business partners to accelerate business growth.

Conversely, when relationships go wrong, couple distress is strongly linked to problems with individual health and well-being (Lebow et al 2012), have serious health concerns, increased stress and anxiety, increased rates of depression and increased rates of substance abuse. These workers directly cost companies in absenteeism and higher turnover expenditures, and indirectly supporting less motivated and less healthy employees and through the societal effects of broken families. In Australia, research indicates divorce costs taxpayers an estimated $14 billion in federal and state expenditures annually (Andrews, 2012).

The effect for future generations is also known. The children of couples who stay together – and therefore have both parents present in the house – are more likely to thrive in their well-being and education (McLanahan et al 2013).

If relationships are integral to all aspects of a fulfilled life – from developing parenting skills, through to improving relationships with family and friends, to effectively communicating with colleagues and business partners, then it is in the interest of every organisation to assist employees to strengthen and build strong relationship skills. If marriage and family wellness improves a company’s overall financial health and increases profitability, it is then in every company’s best financial interest to support employees and to invest in the promotion of relational wellness to amplify the happiness and confidence of employees and to maximise business potential.

Prevention programs are a great investment in employees with studies demonstrating that for every $1.00 invested in employee wellness programs, the return on investment is as high as $6.85 (Turvey et al, 2006).

References:

  • Andrews, K. 2012: Maybe ‘I do’: modern marriage & the pursuit of happiness. Connor Court Publishing.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016.
  • McLanahan, S., Tach, L., & Schneider, D. 2013: The Causal Effects of Father Absence. Annual Review of Sociology, 39, 399-427.
  • Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN
  • Waite, L., & Gallagher, M. 2000: The case for marriage. New York: Doubleday.

Material used with permission of PREPARE/ENRICH.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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It is in the interest of every organisation to assist employees to strengthen and build strong relationship skills at work and at home

We all know that work and family life are intertwined and research supports this demonstrating that employees who are highly committed to their roles as parents and spouses benefit companies. Conversely, employee performance and satisfaction occur easiest when outside influences like family are considered through workplace contracts and the provision of flexible work arrangements.

Whilst Australia has seen a declining rate of marriage since 1947 – similar to other western nations – today more than 70% of women will marry in their lifetime, 1 in 5 marrying at least twice, with 4 in 5 couples living together before marriage (an increase from less than 1 in 5 in 1975). Lasting an average of 12 years, 1 in 3 of these relationships will end in divorce, most occurring in their primary producing years, around 45 for men and 43 for women in 2016 (ABS, 2016).

Marriage however still confers certain unique benefits. Based on a wealth of academic research, married people tend to have healthier lifestyles, live longer, have more satisfying sexual relationships, have more economic assets, and have children that tend to do better academically and emotionally. When relationships go right, couples who stay together tend to be happier, healthier and ultimately wealthier (Waite & Gallagher 2000).

For the employee and for businesses, research suggests that happily married employees increase profitability (Turvey et al, 2006), and have the potential through strengthened relationships at home and with business partners to accelerate business growth.

Prevention programs are a great investment in employees with studies demonstrating that for every $1.00 invested in employee wellness programs, the return on investment is as high as $6.85 (Turvey et al, 2006).

References:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016.
  • McLanahan, S., Tach, L., & Schneider, D. 2013: The Causal Effects of Father Absence. Annual Review of Sociology, 39, 399-427.
  • Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN
  • Waite, L., & Gallagher, M. 2000: The case for marriage. New York: Doubleday.

Material used with permission of PREPARE/ENRICH.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf