It’s no secret that many employees suffer from workplace stress and anxiety, which siphon away energy and shatter concentration. Stress can result in low engagement and performance; higher absenteeism; and, in the most extreme instances, burnout.
Workplace stress, anxiety and burnout can happen in any setting, from the shop floor to the C-suite. The toll of burnout is even visible among CEOs; nearly 40 percent of CEOs hired from outside the company are out the door after only 18 months, and only 64 percent reach a fourth anniversary.
An organization that regularly addresses the whole employee is more likely to meet performance goals and blunt rising health care costs. Mounting evidence shows a cause-and-effect relationship between employee well-being and top-line growth and bottom-line profitability. A 2011 study showed the power of combining a culture of well-being with strategic investment in well-being programs; based on decades of data, the research found that one dollar invested in employee well-being yielded a return of $1.88 to $3.92. Simply put, employee wellness is good for business.
Employee wellness is more than offering fitness programs or healthy cafeteria selections; it is a culture, and the activation of that culture starts at the top. Senior executives who set the wrong example – who are workaholics or apply undue pressure to staff at every opportunity – often lower morale and elevate chronic levels of stress, which ultimately undermines employee performance. On the other hand, leaders who oscillate between periods of intense high performance and strategic recovery – who recognize and reward excellence and offer regular doses of encouragement – are more likely to generate higher efficiency, productivity and profit, because their employees are more energized and more engaged.
Organizations that place a premium on developing leadership talent that values health and wellness may see less burnout and, as a direct result, improved retention, saving the heavy costs of replacing valued personnel. When it comes to employee health and well-being, the C-suite must take full ownership and lead by example.
How can leaders establish – and sustain – an organizational culture that is physically, emotionally and purposefully well? Here are some key principles:
- Be four-dimensional. Build and sustain energy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
- Training stress is good, whether in the gym, at the desk or at home. Healthy stress creates growth, but then we must give ourselves permission to rest. World-class performers are world-class at recovery.
- Unleash the right emotions. Leaders must choose to have the right attitude toward themselves, their organizations and their lives. Choosing kindness and gratefulness not only helps us get along well with others; it can also give us peace of mind and a happy heart.
- Up your mental game. Being present in the moment shows others we care and elevates our productivity.
- Be spiritual: Here, spirituality means purpose. Human beings are deeply motivated by mission, and organizations are the same. Great leaders coach individuals and teams to connect with purpose.
Executive training programs are on the rise, but such initiatives focus largely on processes or communication – how to budget your time or how to advance your career. Few take a holistic approach and focus on human performance through well-being. By using a science-based, holistic development program, you can equip leaders to perform at their best and live their most meaningful lives.