Citing an American Psychological Association(APA) study, Medical News Today reports three-fourths of Americans say they are stressed about work & money; one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress, and the most commonly cited source of stress— mentioned by 74 percent of respondents — was work.
If you are think you are one of these people with a high degree of stress and poor quality of life due to work, take notice! companies large and small are recognizing that happy & healthy employees affect the bottom line in a positive way.
This month the APA recognized five organizations for their comprehensive efforts to promote employee health and well-being while improving performance. Companies presented with the American Psychological Association’s 2008 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award (PHWA) were Arkansas Educational Television Network, Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico, Nike Tennessee, Porter Keadle Moore (Georgia) and Westminster Savings Credit Union (British Columbia).
If you run a company or own a business and believe that it wouldn’t be practical for you to implement this, listen to what these organizations report: A turnover rate of 11 percent compared to the national average of 40 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys completed by employees of the winning organizations showed overall well-being and job satisfaction for employees to be significantly greater compared to national averages.
According to the APA report; at Westminster Savings Credit Union, high employee satisfaction and low turnover means that two thirds of WSCU’s openings are filled internally, lowering administrative costs. Increased productivity is another benefit for the organizations. In 2007, Nike Tennessee increased productivity by 51 percent, while reducing injury rates by almost 30 percent. And at Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples, an insurance company in Puerto Rico, employee loyalty is high with a 15-year average length of service and a turnover rate of less than two percent.”
In a New York Times article published this week on the same subject, they point out that “48 percent of the employers in the survey said stress created by long hours and limited resources was affecting business performance, but only 5 percent said they were taking strong action to address those areas.”
The Times highlights some well know organizations that are showing initiative in this area as well. They include:
GlaxoSmithKline has program called “Team Resilience” which combines things like health assessments, discussion groups and follow-up evaluations to deal with workplace stress.
PricewaterhouseCoopers also addresses stress in multiple ways. For example, in annual surveys, employees asked for more coaching and opportunities to connect with more experienced colleagues — and got them.
Workplace Options, a provider of work-life employee benefits, reports that a recent poll of more than 700 working adults found 76 percent believe it is important that companies offer employees wellness programs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The U.S. Surgeon General states that 50 percent of this year’s high-cost employees in terms of health care were not in that category last year, and more than 87 percent of health care claims costs are due to an individual’s lifestyle, according to a study by Indiana University. To combat these trends, it is important for companies to consider adopting wellness initiatives that incorporate coaching for maximum results.
Predominantly from the viewpoint of Corporate Wellness, Talent Mangement cites the benefits of coporate wellness programs and coaching. “According to recent studies, pairing personalized coaching with employee wellness initiatives leads to higher success rates.”
What i think is evident is that employers are starting to realize that a happy healthy employee performs better. In order to affect this employers are recognizing that they must look at the employee in terms of their whole life, and how they can help them maintain a quality life.
60 Minutes did a segment on Happiness.
Here is a 12 minute excerpt, followed by some highlights from this episode and some additional perspectives on how to be happy.
Denmark tops the list of the happiest country in the world. The segment takes a look at what makes Danes so happy. As one of the researchers puts it, this may be due to the Danes modest expectations. It may also have to do with the fact that college students get paid to go to school, a dad gets paid for 6 months to stay home and care for his child, free healthcare for all, subsidized child care, and 6 weeks vacation. As one of the Danish college students interviewed for the segment “we are secured from the day we are born.” The average tax rate though is about 50%.Some Danish college students state what is important to them, work they enjoy, time with their families, low stress, and one of the students offers advice to Americans “don’t depend too much on the American Dream, you might get disappointed.” I don’t agree with the notion not to attempt something because you could fail.U.S. comes in as the 23rd happiest country. Dont worry we come in ahead of Iraq.Tal Ben Shahar a professor and researcher at Harvard University teaches the “most popular course on campus; “Positive Psychology”. He is also the author of the recently released “Happier”. He suggests Americans would not be willing to pay a 50% tax rate for the lifestyle the Danes have. Americans have higher expectations a “want it all” mentality focused on material things, which does not make one happier. He loosely defines happy as the intersection between doing something that has meaning to us and which gives us pleasure.Ben Shahar offers 5 easy steps to happiness:
Shahar goes on to say that the number one predictor of well-being is close friendships and relationships in general.
60 Minutes is not the only media outlet covering happiness as of late.
Good Morning America and 20/20 both did stories just last month on Happiness. GMA Interviewed UC Riverside Professor and Sonja Lyubomirsky; author of the recently released “The How of Happiness.”
Her research shows “If we observe genuinely happy people, we shall find that they do not just sit around being contented. They make things happen. They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings. In sum, our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find oursselves.” Based on her findings she offers 12 scientific strategies for happiness. ABC News has an excerpt of her book available.
This academic and scientific research on happiness stems from Positive Psychology, founded by Dr. Martin Seligman; Director of the Positive Psychology Center at The University of Pennsylvania. On their Authentic Happiness Website there are free questionaires which will measure different degrees of happiness, character, and other related areas.
I have great respect for the area of positive psychology. It serves as part of the foundation for the Life Coaching that I am trained in. While the academic research and findings are quite interesting, this look at Happiness would not be complete without mentioning “The Art Of The Happiness” by The Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler. The book is a dialogue between the two authors. While not free of modern science and research, the core premises of this book are steeped in Buddhism.
These premises are:
Gretchen Rubin is a New York City based author an fellow blogger, currently working on a book called “ The Happiness Project”. It states on her blog that it will be “a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier.”
So while there are a number of different perspectives and the subject of happiness is on a lot of people’s minds, with varying conclusions. One take-away for me is that so much of it has to do with our own attitude. The way that we choose to see things. The glass half-full or half-empty perspective. Do you need to have what you want, or want what you already have to be happy?
In considering living to a ripe old age, the ideal is to maintain independence and a quality of life. A recent study takes a look at 5 common behaviors of men who have lived past age 90. Yes, I have friends who have had a grandmother that smoked into their 90’s, I would guess those are exceptions and not the rule. A new study led by Dr. Laurel B. Yates at Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that a “healthy lifestyle in one’s elderly years may contribute to living past age 90 in men.”
Specifically the study mentions weight management, exercising regularly and not smoking as being factors that could play a role in increased life span. The researchers
estimate that”a 70-year-old man who did not smoke and had normal blood pressure and weight, no diabetes and exercised two to four times per week had a 54 percent probability of living to age 90.”
Any of these adverse factors could play a role in reducing probability of livng to age 90; Sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, obesity, smoking and diabetes. Various combinations of these factors raning from two to all five of them might give you only a 4 percent chance of living to age 90.
A key component of this study is that these factors also played a role in a better quality of life with better physical function, mental well-being, and self-perceived health in late life.
As the New York Times points out in an article citing this and other studies, there can be other mitigating factors including level of education and degree of social isolation which affect life expectancy.
The Times article cites another recent study which found that a large proportion of people who lived that long and lived with minimal or no assistance did so despite long-term chronic illness. In other words, instead of delaying disease, they delay disability. Dr. Dellara F. Terry, of Boston University, the another studies lead author.