In their words: Stuart Taylor & What are our organisations doing to their staff? - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

In their words: Stuart Taylor & What are our organisations doing to their staff?

Written by on March 3, 2016 in Wellness, Work with 0 Comments

UnknownChronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death. A recent study conducted by The Resilience Institute of 16,261 people across 250 companies, revealed that 81 percent of staff experience intense work environments with very concerning levels of worry, chronic stress symptoms, distress and disengagement.

So, what are our organisations doing to their staff? Clearly a provocative question with evil, pre-meditated undertones. Equally problematic, it is also based on the assumption that staff are powerless, subservient victims who are unable to make choices. So let’s be clear at the get go. Resilient people know there is always choice. The ultimate choice is to leave an organisation should the leadership and culture not be conducive to a happy and healthy life. The less dramatic choices are influencing or making peace with the current environment.

The organisation (and its stakeholders) define the length of the track and what is an acceptable track record. This is called pressure. This is not stress. It is critical to separate the two words. Stress is how an individual relates to that pressure. If my strength is playing chess and running is not, then being asked to run will clearly drive a level of stress. Why? The challenge exceeds my skills. I will likely underperform, become disengaged and, over-time, unhealthy. Conversely, the act of playing chess leads me to high performance, engagement, joy and full health.

Stress is not only the level of actual pressure versus skills, it is also the perceived level of pressure. A resilient person recognises that pressure is either an external demand or their internal standard. They recognise that the stress experienced now is how they choose to forecast their ability to succeed or fail in the future. A resilient person is far better at not forecasting a catastrophe (worry), at gathering resources to improve the forecast, and keeping their brain in the present.

The consequences of not doing this? The chronic stress hormones (especially cortisol) build up leading ultimately to chronic stress and the associated illness and life impact. This link is supported by The Resilience Institute data that shows a very high positive correlation between worry (prevalence of 31% of sample) and distress (.35), ill health (.30), depression (.50), not to mention a negative correlation with resilience (-.55) and engagement (-.32).

Stuart Taylor is CEO and founder of The Resilience Institute. He is presenting a session at next month’s Wellness@Work conference, part of the Wellness Show, co-located with the Digital Health Show and Happiness & Its Causes.

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