Tag Archives: stress

Stressed lady in office

8 Tips For Dealing With Stress & Top 10 Most And Least Stressful Jobs

Here are 8 tips from Dr. Kevin Klassen, a cardiologist with Scottsdale Healthcare, and Dr. Anne-Marie Reed, a board certified family physician at Camelback Health Care, for dealing with workplace stress:

1. Do what you can to have a positive outlook about your job, knowing that better alternatives will be hard to find and that almost anything can be better if you make the effort to do so.
2. Help your coworkers. Promoting a sense of camaraderie reduces everyone’s stress and often causes the others to want to help you, also.
3. Walk during breaks and lunch. Exercise before or after work. Physical activity seems to clear your head and dissipate stress.
4. Limit caffeine during the day and alcohol after hours. Both tend to cause dehydration, which can increase stress and anxiety.
5. Eat healthfully and limit calories.
6. Respect the fact that your body needs to rest and make enough time to get a good night’s sleep.
7. Live within your means. Financial stress is one of the worst types of stresses to live with and it impacts not only coworkers but family and friends.
8. Keep a good support system. Family and friends can provide emotional support without any strings attached. Focus on the simpler things in life. Smile and be positive.


10 Most Stressful And 10 Least Stressful Jobs In 2012

10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2012

1. Enlisted soldier, stress score 84.61, average income $35,580
2. Firefighter, stress score 60.26, average income $45,250
3. Airline pilot, stress score 59.58, average income $103,210
4. Military general, stress score 55.17, average income $196,300
5. Police officer, stress score 53.63, average income $53,540
6. Event coordinator, stress score 49.85, average income $45,260
7. Public relations executive, stress score 47.56, average income $91,810
8. Corporate executive, stress score 47.41, average income $165,830
9. Photojournalist, stress score 47.09, average income $40,000
10. Taxi driver, stress score 46.25, average income $22,440

10 Least Stressful Jobs of 2012

1. Medical records technician, stress score 7.52, average income $32,350
2. Jeweler, stress score 8.21, average income $35,170
3. Hair stylist, stress score 8.63, average income $22,760
4. Dressmaker-tailor, stress score 8.65, average income $26,560
5. Medical laboratory technician, stress score 9.33, average income $36,280
6. Audiologist, stress score 9.37, average income $66,660
7. Precision assembler, stress score 9.40, average income $31,250
8. Dietitian, stress score 10.27, average income $53,250
9. Furniture upholsterer, stress score 10.30, average income $29,960
10. Electrical technician, stress score 10.38, average income $56,040

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Dad working from home

Do Men Care About Work-Life Balance?

In a word, yes! When it comes to work and family, men and women are more alike than different, according to a new research study of employees around the world. This finding conflicts with a widely held assumption that male identity is rooted in work, whereas women place a higher priority on personal and family life.

The Global Study on Men and Work-Life Integration (WorldatWork and WFD Consulting 2011) sought to understand how organizations can remove the stereotypes and barriers that prevent men from utilizing work-life offerings, as well as what prevents leaders and managers, who are often men, from supporting the use of work-life options.

Findings include:

Work-life programs are not as effective as they can be because managers still cling to the notion that the “ideal worker” is an employee with few personal commitments. A majority of managers still believe that the most productive employees are those without a lot of personal commitments.

Financial stress is a top work-life issue across country and gender, and the top issue for most. Employees increasingly spend part of their on-the-job time addressing financial concerns. Employers can ease this stress by increasing employee assistance programs, offering financial counseling programs, and being as transparent as possible about the corporate financial situation and job security.

“Working men and women around the world seek the same holy grail: success in both their work and family lives,” said Kathie Lingle, WLCP, executive director of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress. “The assumption that male identity is rooted in work and not family is a major impediment to the effective integration of employees’ work and family lives.”

Added Peter Linkow, president of WFD Consulting: “Leaders must give voice to their own stories of work-life integration, warts and all. This would be a powerful step toward reducing employees’ fears that utilizing the benefits they have been given will jeopardize their careers.  This is especially important in a climate where financial stress and job security are top-of-mind for workers.”

woman holding her head - looking stressed

Five Ways To Reduce Stress In The Workplace

  1. man on phone
    Communicate:If co-workers are causing you stress, ask yourself — why? Perhaps the two of you just aren’t communicating. Put yourself in their shoes — listen to their needs and see if you can accommodate them. If you can, a source of conflict is removed and so is the stress associated with it. If you can better communicate your needs, others are more likely to agree with you.
  2. sun shining thru clouds
    Bright Side:
    When things turn negative, you may follow with a negative pattern of thinking. It’s easy to say that you hate your job, but are you doing anything to improve the situation? If you try to have a positive attitude, it’ll be easier to overcome problems at work. It’s quite possible that everything at work is not as bad as it feels when you are angry. If you try to focus on the things that are going right, you will be less stressed and will increase your job satisfaction.
  3. woman doing yoga in field
    Take Care:
    When the work load is unbearable and you find yourself working through lunch or overtime, stop and take breaks. Enjoy something that isn’t work related. Try not to take work home. Exercise and eat right. A healthy body translates to a healthy mind.
  4. people working together
    Everyone’s Human:
    Everyone makes mistakes. Your team can still produce quality work even if you make a few mistakes. Remember, the work place will still function even if you aren’t there. Remain flexible.
  5. child in adults work shoes
    Other’s Shoes:
    If you put yourself in other people’s shoes you will be able to better understand where they are coming from. If you understand their expectations you can better manage a project and your stress.
Listen to your employees - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

Listening to Employees

In tough times, the give-and-take relationship between workers and employers needs to be nurtured

U.S. productivity is up. According to the latest reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual measure of labor productivity increased 3.8 percent from 2008 to 2009. While some may view this as a sign of an economic recovery, the fact is more than 15 million Americans are still unemployed, the national unemployment rate is hovering near 10 percent and the economy isn’t creating many jobs. Any near-term growth in business is likely going to come from getting more out of the current work force; and the best way to get more out of workers is to help them be more focused and engaged.

While the recession has brought higher productivity per employee, it also has lowered employee satisfaction. Employees are distracted and unable to focus on the job at hand. The Tell It Now poll by ComPsych, an employee assistance provider based in Chicago, found that about three in every four employees are somewhat to very worried about job stress and workload.

Based on the latest research, here are five ways employers can strengthen the exchange relationship in which the employer provides monetary and non-monetary rewards to employees in return for their time and talent.

Communicate more, even if it’s negative
Conceptually, most employers know that communication impacts employee motivation and commitment. Unfortunately, this conceptual understanding does not always translate into action. In fact, the New York-based human resources consulting firm Watson Wyatt’s (now Towers Watson) 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study of 328 employers found that many companies plan to scale down their communication to workers. A 2009 Gallup study of 1,000 employees found that 25 percent feel ignored; that is, they receive neither positive nor negative feedback from their bosses. Neglecting employees is far worse for morale than negative feedback, which at least lets people know they matter. It seems employees crave communication, even if it’s negative.

Pay particular attention to the sales force
In the early stages of economic recovery, many organizations rely heavily on their sales forces to recoup lost revenue. During this critical time, organizations need to ensure they properly motivate their sales force in order to achieve positive results. The best place to start is to simplify the sales compensation plan, such that it can be discerned and executed easily. Joseph DiMisa of Sibson Consulting, a human resources consulting firm with offices in Phoenix, is the author of “Sales Compensation Made Simple.” He says, “There’s a difference between being complex and being complicated. You do not need to have numerous measures, mechanics and linkages to ensure good performance.”

Create career development opportunities
According to the association of human resource professionals WorldatWork’s 2009-10 Salary Budget Survey updated in January, at least 50 percent of employers froze pay for some or all employees in the 2009 recession, while 13 percent cut pay. Cash-strapped organizations are turning to intangible ways to reward and motivate employees, such as career development opportunities (33 percent), non-cash rewards and recognition (28 percent), leadership training on employee motivation (21 percent), and flexibility options (20 percent). Career development opportunities can come in many forms: working on important projects, helping in another department or branch, volunteerism, or training and certification. While training and certification do entail some costs, several associations are offering scholarships to help those who are unemployed, underemployed or underfunded.

Expand programs to include hourly workers
Employers tend to exclude nonexempt workers from flexible work arrangements based on traditional limitations, such as work hours and safety requirements. A recent study by WorldatWork and the Work Design Collaborative, Flexible Work Arrangements for Nonexempt Employees, found that the three biggest industrial sectors allowing hourly employees to telework were manufacturing, education and business services. Manufacturing came as a surprise, as it is traditionally dominated by nonexempt employees working on-site. The study concludes that allowing hourly employees to take part in flexible work programs is becoming more of a business imperative. As such, employers need to have a process in place to determine eligibility. They must also utilize formal employer-employee contracts regarding alternative work arrangements.

Add value by offering voluntary benefits
With the rising cost of employee benefits, how can employers enhance the value of benefit offerings without adding to overhead costs? The answer may lie in voluntary benefits. A 2009 study by the insurance company Unum finds that employee satisfaction with benefits plans is 19 percent higher among employers that offer voluntary benefits than those that don’t. What’s more, these benefits do not cost the employer anything and help employees afford a plan because rates are based on the group rather than the individual. Examples of voluntary benefits include ID theft insurance, pre-paid legal plans, pet or vision insurance, hospital confinement indemnity plans, and other types of supplemental insurance. Finding ways to keep workers happy without impacting the bottom line is a definite advantage in today’s competitive environment.

The economy has certainly dealt a hard blow to today’s work force, but employers still have options to help their employees. If nothing else, the downturn has served as a catalyst for ways to enhance the employee-employer exchange relationship.

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010

piggy bank

Cash Strapped Companies Seek Solutions

The economic downturn and volatility of the financial markets has left a large number of established businesses with difficulty managing cash flow. Cash-strapped businesses, big and small, are paying their bills more slowly than ever. It’s a cash flow river — or trickle in this case — that flows downhill, impacting the businesses below that require healthy cash flow to operate effectively.

As larger companies and small business owners have trouble paying their bills, they are quickly discovering fewer and fewer options. Banks are not lending and credit lines are stressed. What many businesses owners and managers don’t know or have not previously considered is the possibility of factoring.

For small to mid-size companies doing business-to-business or business-to-government transactions, factoring may offer a financial solution that will keep the doors open and even help them grow.

Factoring is a form of financing based on a company’s accounts receivables or billing invoices. A company with slow-paying customers who pay between 30 and 90 days will approach a factoring company to provide cash. The factoring firm will make an advance of 80 percent to 85 percent against the company’s billing invoices for a percentage less than they are worth. The factoring firm charges a fee for the advance, which is based on how long the advance is outstanding, then provides the company with cash as if the bill had already been paid, and the factoring firm collects on the invoice itself.

The result is the factoring firm can help close the cash gap by advancing funds on earned, unpaid invoices so the company can use the funds to pay daily operating expenses such as payroll and vendors. Factoring will usually give business owners more availability of funds than a bank. In addition, factoring funding can be available within a day or two after the application process is complete. The best factoring firms make factoring fast, easy and flexible.

Factoring differs from a bank because factors make funding decisions based on the credit worthiness of a business’ customers. Banks, on the other hand, make credit decisions based on a company’s financial history, cash flow and collateral. Most importantly, a factor makes funding decisions in days or hours, while banks generally take weeks or even months.

This was precisely the case for Phoenix-based American Printhouse, which provides design and screen-printed apparel and accessories to local and national accounts. Its clients include Chaps Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Disney, Liz Claiborne, the U.S. National Parks Service, Sony Signatures, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phoenix Zoo and Discount Tire, to name a few. Garments created and screened at American Printhouse are then sold to 1,500 independent specialty retailers and larger clothing retailers such as Hot Topic, Urban Outfitters, Buckle, Dillard’s, Kohl’s and Target. The company offers 12 different types of printing options for its garments.

Despite employing a staff of 15 and securing an impressive book of accounts on a local and national scale, the company still found itself experiencing the effects of the tightened financial markets.

“We really started feeling the slowdown and clients began asking for net 60 (day) terms beginning in September,” explained Sam Akkad, president and CEO of American Printhouse. “Then we hit the slow season and I was looking at the possibility of layoffs and difficulties paying the rent.”

After multiple banks refused to give the company a loan, and they received notice that their credit card lines were significantly reduced, the building owner suggested factoring. After learning more about factoring in late 2008, the company received $75,000 against their receivables in January 2009, within days of submitting an application for funding. This got them through a rough spot and allowed Akkad to turn things around.

“We didn’t have to do layoffs and today our business is booming,” Akkad said. “We have experienced 125 percent increase in revenue, we are adding new lines of business and looking at hiring.”

Johnny Benson, president of USMX, likes the flexibility factoring allows. Benson joined the company in the 1990s and served as the general manager for a number of years. In early 2008, he purchased the company despite its large debt load due to slow-paying customers. Benson was familiar with factoring and knew the banks would not be favorable to providing a loan or line of credit given the nature of the business.

The company is an environmentally friendly tire recycling facility in Phoenix that fabricates raw product and sells it to be used in playgrounds, artificial turf, molded rubber piping and landscaping. The company picks up tires at retail outlets and other locations throughout Arizona. USMX also cleans up areas where tires have been dumped, both for the state and for private land owners.

The business is growing due to more stringent regulations in recent years pertaining to the disposal of tires. But in order to continue growing, better cash flow is required.

“Working with a factor that allows you to select which customers and which invoices you want to factor is the ideal situation,” Benson explained. “We use factoring as a tool to bring cash flow in order to run our day-to-day operations.”

Regardless of size, factoring can work for companies seeking to fill the gap between invoice payment and payroll, purchasing and other business expenses. If businesses work with a flexible factoring firm, they also have the option of making factoring a big or a small part of their working business plan. Also, while long-term factoring relationships do contribute to a healthy, prosperous business, it would be best to seek out firms that consider factoring a shorter-term relationship. They will be the firms to help get your cash flowing again.

Factoring 101

Questions to ask when considering factoring:

  • Do I have to factor all my invoices?
  • Do I have to factor a minimum amount each month?
  • How much can I factor?
  • Where do my customers send their payments?
  • What fees will I pay?
hand sanitizer helps stay healthy at work

Staying Healthy At Work

Stress is present in almost everyone’s lives today, particularly with the cloud of an unstable economy hanging over the country. Not surprisingly, work is one of the top things that cause people stress.

The problem doesn’t end there. Stress can affect more than our mindset and our mood — it can affect our health. The Wellness Council of America reports that 70 percent of workers say job stress causes frequent health problems. The good news is there are many fun ways employers can help their employees beat stress at work and stay healthy.

“Stress can manifest itself in many ways including obsessive (behavior), excessive worrying, making simple mistakes — such as forgetting to write a check in the register — appetite loss, muscle tension, upset stomach and headaches,” says Dr. Paul Berkowitz, a psychiatrist at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa.

He adds that stress can also weaken the immune system, putting people at a higher risk for catching the common cold.

Dr. Bob Orford, who specializes in preventive, occupational and aerospace medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, adds that stress can also result in depression, high-blood pressure, sleep deprivation, hypertension and even obesity, because people often eat as a way to relieve stress.

Orford offers many ways employers can help their employees fend off stress and increase productivity in the workplace.

“They should allow several mini-breaks for their employees throughout the day — two or three times an hour — to stand up, stretch or simply walk around,” he says. “Productivity can be increased (as a result of) those mini-breaks. “Exercise is the single best way to relieve stress,” he adds.

Orford suggests that anything an employer can do to encourage employees to exercise can help them reduce their stress.

“They can offer incentives such as a contribution for a health club, which Mayo Clinic does, or distributing pedometers and giving a bonus or discount on a health care premium if they walk a certain number of steps,” he says.

Berkowitz adds that companies should also help their employees balance work and life — thus helping relieve their stress — by working with them in areas such as shift scheduling, if at all possible. He suggests employers can offer the option to come in early or work later hours, depending on the employee’s preference. He also suggests perks such as bringing in a corporate massage therapist or encouraging employees to take a yoga class.

In fact, massages can have overwhelmingly positive results in the workplace. In a study performed by the Touch Research Institute in Miami, massaged subjects showed decreased frontal EEG alpha and beta waves and increased delta activity consistent with enhanced alertness; math problems were completed in significantly less time with significantly fewer errors after the massage; and anxiety, cortisol (the stress hormone) and job-stress levels were lower at the end of a five-week period.

“As more and more is expected of workers during these difficult times, maintaining good health is essential in the workplace. Even the smallest employee incentives make a big difference,” says Tiffany Richards, founder of The Back Rub Company in Phoenix. “These affordable programs — like a 15-minute chair massage — are some of the only things that employees look forward to, especially when everyone is over-stressed and worried.”

The Back Rub Company offers on-site wellness services, including chair massages, fitness classes, “lunch and learn” wellness workshops, guided meditation, hypnotherapy sessions and even healthy cooking classes.

Massage Makers offers corporate chair massages and on-site table massages, as well as the unique Body Mechanics program, which addresses repeated physical problems people suffer as a result of how they sit or stand continually at work. Owner Andrea “Andy” Sobczak believes that massages benefit employees by helping relax their muscles and get blood flowing, and also by providing a mental booster.

“It shows employees that (employers) are invested in them, and it gives employees a sense of value,” she says.

Sobczak adds that the human touch also makes people feel like they are important.“People are deprived of human touch … they need to feel special and taken care of,” she says. “It makes people feel good.”

Yoga is another positive stress reliever that employers can offer their employees. Danielle Price Catalfio started StudiYo of Scottsdale after working in Corporate America and realizing how stressful it can be, particularly in a down economy. She created the T.E.A.M. Yoga workshops, which stands for “the ego aware manager,” to help people “take the ego out of the workplace and see each other outside of their titles as human beings not humans doing.”

Catalfio’s two- to three-hour workshops include three main elements: a series of yoga techniques such as breathing and stretching to help people relax; the physical aspect, which helps people let go of thoughts and simply concentrate on holding yoga poses; and workplace stretches that can be done during mini-breaks. She also incorporates relational activities into the workshop that help build trust and camaraderie among co-workers.

Workplace wellness programs don’t just benefit employees. Statistics show these types of incentives actually have an economic return for employers. A report by the U.S. Surgeon General on Physical Activity and Health states that corporate wellness programs return $1.95 to $3.75 per employee, per dollar spent, and have a cumulative economic benefit of $500 to $700 per worker, per year. In addition, the American Journal of Health Promotions reports that for every $1 spent on wellness, employers can get up to $10 back through fewer medical claims, reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and other factors. Berkowitz says employers should look at workplace wellness incentives “as an investment to offset potential losses.”

organized desk

Creating More Efficient Workspaces Can Increase Productivity And Reduce Costs

Bracing for austere times ahead, office leaders have two obvious places to cut back: payroll and real estate. No one would suggest that cutting staff is an easy or enjoyable thing to do, but it can be an opportunity. Space freed by reductions in payroll can be reorganized to improve workplaces, bolster worker morale and raise productivity.

Even before the recent financial crisis took hold, Gensler’s research found that 36 percent of U.S. office space is considered by the workers using it to be ineffective. This is in large measure because the nature of work is changing. Formerly the domain of so-called creative industries, collaborative meetings and group work scenarios have assumed priority over individual focus time.

Reducing office space as a cost-cutting strategy can actually create inefficiencies if you simply shrink space and continue with the same workplace model. Gensler’s recent workplace survey found that firms that provide appropriate workplaces for the type of business conducted have higher levels of employee engagement, brand equity and profit, with profit growth up to 14 percentage points greater than those with less effective work environments.

If layoffs have left you with too much space for too few people, look into whether you can unload space through subletting or simply returning it to the landlord. There can be a real negative psychological impact among employees who always are aware that there’s an empty desk next to them. At the same time, a little more breathing room can boost spirits and productivity.

Before making any plans, take a look around the office and really understand how space is being used. Observe how people are working in the office, how areas are really utilized. What’s empty? What’s overcrowded? Where have people been doing workarounds to make space effective? Look for wear patterns, improvised equipment and furnishings, over-flowing desks, unused conference rooms, etc.

When you’re ready to take action, consider these possibilities:
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your space by converting as many spaces as possible from single-use spaces into multipurpose spaces. A reception area can double as a client area, employee café, community space and optional work area. This approach will require furniture that supports multiple uses.

Wireless capability makes your office one big workspace. Anyone can go to any corner of the workplace to huddle in groups or get away from everyone for some solitary focus time.

By strategically locating amenities, you can increase the opportunities for incidental, as well as intentional, collaboration among staff members.

Branding the workplace nurtures corporate culture and improves a sense of teamwork and pride in the work produced. Color, art, graphic images and printed messages used in strategic locations can be powerful.

Improve visual connectivity among colleagues to promote collaboration and social interaction. This can be achieved in several ways: employ an open office plan, install low-panel workstations and reduce the number of closed offices.

Create space by increasing density and clustering meeting rooms. Create collaborative social zones in the space outside of those areas. This energizes public areas while reducing space taken up by circulation paths.

Place workstations and open collaborative spaces along window areas, and put offices inboard to bring light deeper into the space. Natural light in workspaces raises productivity and reduces energy costs.

Accommodate telecommuting when appropriate. You can save on real estate, energy costs and demonstrate an interest in your employees’ work-life balance. With mobile workers, be sure you have space in the office that gives them easy access to the tools they require and the people they need to connect with.

Perhaps before going all in, make small changes and monitor the results. It is important to assess your workplace layout before making any changes and to evaluate the results after implementation. Observation and surveys are effective ways to validate what’s working. Once your workplace environment changes are complete and have been occupied for a few months, verify that your design is advancing workplace goals. Consider evaluating your space every two to three years to help keep your workplace effective.

Ask where you’ve captured real estate efficiencies. Have you been able to get double and even triple use out of some spaces? Is every part of your office space being deployed in the service of supporting work activities? Are your employees more connected, informed, collaborative and productive? Ultimately, your new design should deliver improved business performance.

Creating a more efficient, collaborative and accommodating workplace is something that pays dividends even in financially distressed times. A proud organization with employees who enjoy going to work and who feel the company cares about them will work harder and more effectively no matter the state of the economy.