Email: Convenient communication tool or source of stress?
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 16:00While the wonders of technology have made it possible to send messages to coworkers with the click of a mouse, an inbox that becomes inundated with demands and memos can quickly become more of a stressor than a convenience.
A Guardian article states that about 34 percent of employees feel stressed out over the number of emails in their inboxes. Those who did not feel anxiety over their volume of unread messages reported that they felt comfortable waiting up to a week to respond, which may not be good for business.
An article on Psych Central reports that there are many ways that workers can manage their email and reduce workplace stress.
First, be sure to utilize tools and labels that are built into most email systems. For instance, color-coding messages to prioritize them can help make the task of responding seem more manageable.
Additionally, set reasonable boundaries. One rarely has an actual need to check work email from home, and confining office tasks to regular workday hours has been known to reduce levels of job stress.
These findings suggest that employee wellness programs aimed at reducing workplace stress may be particularly useful in settings where the main mode of communication is email, which likely applies to most modern offices.
Unhealthy sleep patterns linked to type 2 diabetes
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 16:00Type 2 diabetes is an incurable condition that comes with high healthcare costs due to a need for regular management, including insulin shots, blood glucose measurements and regular exams to stave off comorbidities. This, combined with the growing prevalence of the blood sugar disorder, means that prevention efforts are of utmost importance.
Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study which adds further support to the idea that excessive or inadequate sleep can have a detrimental effect on the body's ability to secrete insulin.
In a trial involving 62 obese teenagers, study authors found that volunteers who slept too much or too little had higher levels of blood glucose.
"Our study found to keep glucose levels stable, the optimal amount of sleep for teenagers is 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night," said researcher Dorit Koren, M.D.
While this study focused on teenagers, the authors noted that their findings are similar to those observed in adult studies.
This suggests that employee wellness programs that provide tips and tools for healthy living - including stress reduction and achieving adequate sleep - may result in a lower prevalence of chronic illnesses among staff members.
Hostile employees may drive customers away
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 16:00Rudeness in the workplace may be a bigger problem than managers think, as a new survey reveals that one third of customers have been served by a worker so hostile that they would likely not return to the business, but respondents said they rarely make a complaint.
Moreover, the volunteers told the University of Southern California and Georgetown University researchers that they encounter this kind of service experience about once every month.
Authors of the study said that this kind of behavior is likely to have a significant impact on a business' bottom line, especially in retail shops and restaurants.
"Regardless of the perpetrator or the reason, witnessing incivility scalds customer relationships and depletes the bottom line," wrote the corresponding authors.
The researchers said the best remedy for this problem may be training to promote civility and anger management.
Since anger is sometimes the result of intense stress, especially in the workplace, results of this survey suggest that employee wellness programs may help administrators create a more productive, happier staff, not to mention improve a company's bottom line.
Blogger offers tips to gain a healthy sleep pattern
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 16:00The Franklin Institute reports that stress and sleep disturbances are strongly associated with one another. An uneasy mind may find it difficult to achieve sleep at night, while a tired brain may be more susceptible to experiencing stress.
As a result, organizations that wish to boast a healthier, more productive staff should provide workers with tools and resources to manage stress as well as tips on achieving a good night's rest.
According to Carol Scott, M.D., a blogger for the website Fast Company, individuals should avoid substances like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the four to six hours leading up to bedtime. These drugs can hinder one's ability to fall asleep or reduce the quality of rest.
A clean, cool, dark bedroom is also key in developing healthy sleep patterns. Also, bed should only be used for sleep, sex and rest, according to the medical expert.
Scott recommended that individuals let the sun be their guiding light in the morning. Having the shades open to let the sunlight in during the waking hours can prep the body and mind for the day ahead.
Employee wellness programs have also been shown to help reduce workplace stress and gear staffers toward a healthier, more productive life.
Employees not taking advantage of flexible spending accounts
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 16:00Flexible spending accounts (FSA) allow workers to contribute money toward healthcare expenses without paying taxes on the income that they set aside. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there is currently no law limiting the amount that employees can put into an account.
However, according to the American Payroll Association (APA), there may soon be a $2,500 cap on the amount that workers can contribute to a FSA, though it's unclear how this will actually affect U.S. employees. A recent APA survey reported that just 12 percent of respondents contributed $2,500 into their FSA over the past year.
A total of 39 percent of surveyed workers reported contributing less than this amount into an FSA, while 46 percent said they did not use their FSA at all.
APA officials said that this may be a problem, considering rising costs of healthcare.
"Employers should encourage employees to take advantage of these and other pre-tax, voluntary payroll deductions to ease the burden of these anticipated expenses," said APA executive director Dan Maddux.
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