Americans are stressed at work. This is not a secret or recent phenomenon. Numerous studies over the past decade indicate that everything from work responsibilities to financial situations can cause heightened stress levels for people in the working world. While stress might be common, just how prevalent is it in society today?
The dangers of stress
Stress is incredibly prevalent in the working world. NPR, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a study called "The Burden of Stress in America" in 2014 to examine the role stress played in everyday working Americans' lives. They worked with a sample of 2,505 participants to identify stress levels, causes and general attitudes about the presence of stress in their lives.
According to the poll, two-thirds of respondents revealed that stress negatively impacted their working life in the past month. Within this figure, half stated that stress made it more difficult for them to concentrate, 40 percent said it kept them from taking on more responsibilities and 37 percent said they struggled to finish their tasks on time.
"Americans are stressed at work."
Researchers also found that people in poor health were 60 percent more likely to be stressed at work, while those who deal with a permanent disability were 45 percent more likely. In addition, high percentages of people who had low incomes, faced safety hazards at work, or who were single parents all experience high stress levels.
Stress in the long-term care field
High stress levels have been known to cause staff burnout problems for those working in the long-term care field. Taking care of residents with dementia, physical limitations and other disabilities for long periods of time can have a profound toll on many long-term care workers. It is not surprising that many facilities experience high turnover rates or tense working environments.
To combat this growing problem, long-term care facilities must provide their staffs with the support and training needed to do their job without becoming overly stressed. In order to accomplish this, employers must not only identity stress-related behaviors among their workers, but create comprehensive plans to help their employees overcome these stressors in the workplace. Here are three specific stress relieving strategies:
- Encourage workplace collaboration. Employees who feel like they have no support in the workplace may experience high stress levels. Encouraging these workers to collaborate with their coworkers for certain assignments or responsibilities may alleviate some of this stress.
- Give employees time to decompress. Sometimes employees simply need to remove themselves from a situation and decompress. It's important for employers to allow workers the opportunity to recharge and be ready for whatever else comes their way. For example, a staff member might have had to calm down an agitated resident who was growing increasingly angry. To keep this worker from letting this stressful situation overburden her, employers should suggest that the employee take time to go outside and take a walk, or meditate to calm down.
- Improve schedules or workplace boundaries. The long-term care field can be fast paced, which may make planning schedules or establishing firm workplace boundaries difficult. Despite this, facilities should make it a priority to assign predictable shifts for their workers so that they don't have to worry about childcare or transportation issues. Meanwhile, encourage employees to not answer emails or do work outside of the office in order to create healthier work-life boundaries.
To learn more about stress management techniques, take one of Mariposa Training's long-term care courses, such as "Stress Management: Managing Stress and Preventing Staff Burnout" today.