Cheryl Steets, Ph.D., Corporate Consultant

Helping Corporations Succeed Through Effective Stress Management

Ask employees of any fast-paced corporation what their #1 issue is with their job and the odds are that you’ll hear “too much stress.”  Recent statistics show that the number of Americans who quit their jobs each month has been steadily on the rise since 2009, reaching 2.8 million in November 2015 and far exceeding the numbers for layoffs and discharges.

A recent survey showed that some 42% of U.S. workers had purposely left a position because of a stressful workplace environment, with an additional 35% considering a change. It is very common for workers to miss time at work due to stress in the workplace; 61% of respondents said that workplace stress had caused them actual physical illnesses such as insomnia and depression.

Corporations can address these critical issues by implementing effective stress-management programs to optimize employee productivity at stressful times, helping to keep attitudes positive and employees happy.

Meet Cheryl Steets, Ph.D.

Cheryl Steets, Ph.D.

Cheryl Steets, Ph.D., is a corporate consultant and author of the forthcoming book, Burnout Epidemic, a study of the job burnout phenomenon. The book examines the issues underlying job burnout and explores methods that corporations can utilize to help employees who “burn out” at their job or in their careers when faced with stressors they consider unmanageable. In fact, as Dr. Steets documents, these stressors can often be more effectively managed by employees when they are given the right information and tools. Corporations will reap the benefit of more productive, happier employees by providing the resources their workers need. A basic understanding the latest perspectives in psychology, in particular, can remove outdated perceptions that foster stressful thinking.

Teaming up with prominent California psychologist Dr. Douglas J. Lisle, founder of the Esteem Dynamics method of clinical psychology, Dr. Steets works with corporations to help them implement innovative and effective stress-management programs as an adjunct to their more traditional corporate wellness programs.

A lifelong advocate of healthy living with a 20-year professional career spanning academia, technology and software, Dr. Steets believes that employees are a corporation’s most valuable asset. Because job stress today is at peak levels due to rising workloads, corporate downsizings, and external market forces, she encourages companies to understand that effective stress management programs are vital to employee productivity. Dr. Steets is dedicated to helping corporations understand and address these issues.

Excerpted from the forthcoming book Burnout Epidemic by Cheryl Steets

“In the always-on work world of the twenty-first century, it’s all too common for inboxes to fill to the brink of capsizing. Employees find themselves struggling to keep afloat, taking phone calls and checking their email even on sick days, vacation days, and throughout the evening. Workloads increase, staffing budgets decrease, and project goals drive activity seemingly around the clock. On the flip side, even when there’s not an overload of work, there can be overwhelming difficulties dealing with the difficult personalities and stress-reactive venting of coworkers, supervisors, and clients. It’s no longer rare to hear one’s friends complain, or to find oneself complaining, "This job is just burning me out.”

“The statistics regarding job satisfaction and job stress are not pretty. The majority of Americans are unhappy in their jobs. The number of Americans who quit their jobs each month has been steadily on the rise since 2009, reaching 2.8 million in November 2015 and far exceeding the numbers for layoffs and discharges.(1)  A recent Harris Interactive study indicated that a whopping 74 percent of people would consider finding a new job.(2)

“How much of that eye for greener pastures is triggered specifically by job stress? As reported in Forbes, an international 2014 poll by employment search website Monster.com found that 42% of U.S. workers had purposely left a position because of a stressful workplace environment, with an additional 35% considering a change.(3) It is very common for workers to miss time at work due to stress in the workplace. Sixty-one percent of respondents in the same study said that workplace stress had caused them actual physical illnesses such as insomnia and depression. A 2014 StressPulseSM survey documented that 64% of employees surveyed have high stress levels with extreme fatigue and the feeling of being out of control.(4) By contrast, the same survey documented that only 5% of employees had stress levels they considered to be low.

“It is safe to say that some stress on the job—whether it be due to a seasonally increased workload or an occasional critical deadline—is to be expected and is manageable by most workers.  After all, it is in the nature of organizations to aim for optimized productivity, and finding the right balance between leadership’s desires to maximize revenue and/or output and the individual employees’ physical and emotional ability to perform at desired levels is the challenge of every organization. Some organizations find this balance admirably well, and such places offer a good environment for employees.

“However, when job and stress becomes chronic, and when employees get emotionally exhausted and burned out by their jobs, it is a different story. Sadly, the number of American workers reporting chronic job stress increased in 2016 to 33%, and only 35% said that their employer provides sufficient resources to help employees manage their stress.(5) Recent studies of the effects of stress on the body, much touted by the media, show us that chronic stress, defined as a pathological state that is caused by prolonged activation of the normal acute physiological stress response, can wreak havoc on immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular systems. It has been proposed that chronic stress appears to damage the areas of the brain involved in emotional responses, thinking and memory, potentially leading to depression and dementia.(6) As the impact is potentially so devastating for both organizations and individuals, it must become a priority to address today’s high water-line of chronic job stress and burnout with the most powerful and effective approaches we can find.”

 ---

Copyright © 2016 by Cheryl Steets

References:

  1. US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quits table for November 2015.
  2. “I’m Outta Here! Why 2 Million Americans Quit Every Month (and 5 Steps to Turn the Epidemic Around)”. Forbes, March 11, 2013.
  3. Kathryn Dill, “Survey: 42% Of Employees Have Changed Jobs Due To Stress.” Forbes, Apr 18, 2014.
  4. ComPsych, StressPulse[SM] Survey, 2014.
  5. Work and Well-Being Survey, conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association in March, 2016.
  6. Mah, Linda; Szabuniewicz, Claudia; Fiocco, Alexanrdra J. “Can Anxiety Damage the Brain?” Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 2016.
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