It is unfortunate that we live in a world in which most people simply work to survive. This alone is a clear indication of the humanitarian crises that plague peoples and nations around the word.
Whether they work to survive, to accomplish a goal or to celebrate a personal vision, on average, American workers spend eight hours a day, five days a week (at least) at work. Add commuting time and traffic, assignment preparations, overtime, meetings that run over schedule and time we spend catching up on work projects at home, it all adds up to at least one half of our 24 hour day more often than not.
Entrepreneurs, the self employed, or those who are running home businesses are most likely to be even more stretched for time. Ironically, while they refuse to work 40 hours (or more) a week for someone else, they end up choosing to work 100 hours a week for themselves.
Clearly, in the United States, work has come to dominate our lives. As a result, work related stress increasingly pressures our marriages, socialization, education, parenting and health.
Here are some recent statistics that highlight how work related stress is having a negative impact on our lives:
- The American Psychological Association estimates that more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy due to workplace stress.
- 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job.
- Sixty to 80 percent of workplace accidents are attributed to stress.
- It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of doctor visits are due to stress.
- Workplace stress has been linked to health problems ranging from metabolic syndrome to cardiovascular disease and increased mortality rates.
- In a large-scale study of over 3,000 employees conducted by Anna Nyberg at the Karolinska Institute, results showed a strong link between leadership behavior and heart disease in employees.
- Research also shows that workplace stress has led to an increase of almost 50 percent in voluntary employee turnover.
It is fair to say work and the stress that comes with it can actually make us mentally and physically ill. In order to get back on our feet and reclaim our mental and physical health and well being, something clearly needs to be done.
Already a well-established movement in Europe, the push for workplace well-being is becoming a growing concern in America as well. However most well-being programs here call for achieving greater physical health through diet, exercise and getting enough sleep.
Although a healthy body is important, however, a healthy mind has a greater impact on the quality of life, given that poor mental health is a major contributor to physical health complications and decline.
It’s increasingly clear that now is the time for us to actually “mind our work,” meaning that we must pay attention to what we are doing at work, the better to observe what is happening in order to prevent current and future damage to our health.
It is time for employers and leaders to provide mental health and well-being interventions and strategies to support and protect their employees. Such proactive programs not only help employees’ health. They can adds to employee productivity as well. More productive and happy employees are the key factors that tend to support more profitable businesses, making the support of employee health a win-win proposition.
My advice to business owners, corporate leaders, and managers today is simple: “Mind your Work” and invest in your workers’ well being. It will pay you back with a better workplace environment and enhanced profitability as well.