Archive for the ‘Stress Test’ Category
At The Oxygen Plan, we have been working to communicate and educate employers about the adverse impact of stress on employee health as well as the associated costs to the employer. As examples, here are some our favorite and, by now, familiar yet always stunning statistics:
- Stress costs US employers $4 Billion per year, or 13% of GDP
- This translates to approximately $5000/employee/year (actual estimate is $4888)
- Stress is responsible for 70-95% of physician visits
- Stress is linked to the 6 leading causes of death
- Stress is a significant risk factor of a myriad of other health conditions and chronic diseases, all of which compound health care costs and erode employee engagement & profitability.
That’s why this morning, on the Today Show, we were glad to see a segment on stress, further emphasizing the importance of addressing stress in our lives:
- People in the US spend approximately $800 million per year on anti-anxiety medications
- In the US, 1 million employees miss work every day due to stress
- Stress can make your “real” or biological age as much as 32 years older than your chronological age, largely due to the stress hormone, cortisol
- Chronic stress causes brain cells to deteriorate and die, contributing problems with memory, attention and concentration.
So, more bad news. But as we at The Oxygen Plan emphasize even more – also highlighted on the Today Show – the good news is that individuals can reverse and minimize these effects on health by understanding how stress impacts health, measuring that impact, then taking steps to better manage that stress. Employers can dramatically improve their bottom line by doing the same for their employees.
At The Oxygen Plan, we measure stress across home, work and social dimensions with our Stress Test™. And according to our basic, underlying principles, scores in the red suggest there are toxic people, places and/or things in our lives. Turns out, that may well be true for certain “friends” we have in our lives…
Trouble paying the bills. Worry about the economy. Worry about keeping our jobs and our homes. Worry about finding a job or a new home. Troubled relationships. Trying to raise kids in a world that is becoming increasingly chaotic and seemingly dangerous. Trying to get through the day much less plan ahead.
Seem at least somewhat familiar? We are not immune to the stresses of everyday life. No one is. While we all cope in different and more or less effective ways, as individuals we cannot escape the impacts of stress on our lives at home, at work and socially; stress is a significant risk factor for our work productivity, our relationships and our health. As employers, we must be concerned about stress levels in our workforce. With the cost of stress estimated at just under $5,000 per employee per year, how can employers not be concerned? Even our government must be concerned about stress levels in our country. Given the social deterioration we see, the erosion of marriages and families, the unemployment rate and the chaos we see in our neighborhoods, our cities, our country and around the world, leaders surely are concerned about this state of affairs, even if for only political reasons.
At The Oxygen Plan, we have a keen interest on stress levels and how it impacts us every day. To date, since introducing our Stress Test and Stress Number®, over 38,000 people have taken the Stress Test. And we should be concerned. In the first month of the Stress Test — September, 2009 — average Stress Numbers for home, work and social were 55, 54 and 55 respectively. That’s yellow across the board. As of February, 2011 the average scores were 52, 47 and 53, also respectively. With a sample of over 38,000 people, that is a significant shift toward the negative. While still all yellow (that’s the good news?) each score suggests stress levels are rising — along with all of the negative effects stress imparts. The work score of 47, down from 54, should be of particular concern for employers. This translates to increased health care costs absenteeism, presenteeism, disability along with decreased productivity and morale at work. And this is before the flooding in the Northeast, ever-increasing troubles in the Middle East and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — and cataclysmic event that literally and figuratively hit our shores.
America’s Stress Numbers suggest we are in trouble and it is not getting any better. But we are not helpless. We have at our fingertips the means to identify and better manage our stress — as individuals, as couples, as families, as employers and as leaders. We owe it to ourselves and those around us. Stress is the number one modifiable health risk we face. At The Oxygen Plan our mission is to help us all accomplish the goal of becoming a "better you."
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