Strong emotional intelligence may reduce workplace stress, improve employee performance
Thursday, 29 September 2011 16:00Emotional intelligence is defined as an aptitude at identifying and managing emotions in a way that is healthy and constructive, according to HelpGuide.org.
The nonprofit organization reports that there are four factors that influence emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
The first component involves being more aware of one's own emotions and what effect they have on actions and thoughts. Part of this is knowing personal strengths and weaknesses. Self-management is the skill to control negative responses to stressful or challenging communications and or situations. It involves handling feelings and situations in a way that yields positive results. These two aspects are integral for employees dealing with intense workplace stress.
Additionally, workers need the skills to build good relationships with co-workers. Social awareness is the ability to recognize how others may be feeling and respond appropriately. Relationship management is key in helping to influence, manage and inspire others.
Research that was conducted at the Institute of HeartMath revealed that heart rate variability feedback, which helps individuals gain heart rate coherence, may significantly reduce workplace stress as it allows users to view changes in their emotional state. Technology offered by HeartMath provides this in an e-learning format.
Researchers examine how the brain learns during sleep
Tuesday, 27 September 2011 16:00The National Sleep Foundation reports that 63 percent of Americans do not get enough sleep during the weekday. This statistic may mean that the majority of employees in the U.S. are not performing optimally, since sleep has been shown to improve memory.
In a study, researchers at Michigan State University have found that the brain does something during sleep that helps it retain information, though the mechanisms behind this are somewhat unknown.
Additionally, the authors believe that this effect may occur more strongly in certain individuals, perhaps shedding some light onto learning disorders.
"You and I could go to bed at the same time and get the same amount of sleep," said lead researcher Kimberly Fenn, "but while your memory may increase substantially, there may be no change in mine."
She and her colleagues concluded that it's safe to say that a good night's sleep improves cognition for everyone, even those who may lack this particular memory mechanism.
Since stress and loss of sleep are strongly associated, employers may want to ensure that workers are getting enough rest by implementing employee wellness programs that focus on stress management.
Mental health disability appears to be on the rise
Sunday, 25 September 2011 16:00One of the most significant side effects of chronic workplace stress is the mental anguish it can cause some employees, sometimes even leading to clinical depression and disability leaves.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that the number of people reporting mental health disability climbed by nearly one third during the past few years, compared to rates that were recorded in the late 1990s.
Authors of the study stated that roughly 2.7 percent of non-elderly volunteers said they had taken disability for mental health issues in 2007 through 2009, compared to 2 percent in 1997 through 1999.
"These findings highlight the need for improved access to mental health services in our communities and for better integration of these services with primary care delivery," said lead author Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., Ph.D.
Results of this study suggest that workers may be in need of employee health benefits that include care for mental conditions. Additionally, employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management have been shown to decrease healthcare expenditures, as well as improve mental and physical well-being among staff members.
Employee wellness is important the world over
Thursday, 22 September 2011 16:00In a Gallup poll of 47,000 organizations in 116 countries, researchers found that good working conditions are inextricably linked to an employee's sense of personal well-being. Additionally, the survey consistently found that wellness was also tied to engagement.
This suggests that a healthy workplace may lead to stronger employee performance, no matter what the region.
However, the study also found that the majority of workers are not engaged in their jobs, though the U.S. appears to be among the nations with higher rates of employees who are happy and dedicated to their work.
According to LeadershipAdvantage.com, organizations seeking stronger employee engagement should try to foster good inter-office relationships. Additionally, good communication, a clearly defined job role and matching employees with positions appropriate for their skills can all encourage dedication and positivity in the workplace.
Research has shown that workers who feel as though their supervisors have a staff's best interest in mind tend to be more loyal to their company.
Employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management have also been shown to reduce workplace stress, while strengthening employee performance and improving staff health.
Researchers quantify healthcare savings of weight loss
Thursday, 22 September 2011 16:00Excess body fat is linked to a host of chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. These conditions require ongoing treatment, and therefore present a major challenge in reducing healthcare costs, especially in light of rising obesity rates.
As a result, researchers at biopharmaceutical company VIVUS conducted a study to determine how much could be saved in Medicare costs if patients on the plan dropped their body weight by 10 percent.
They found that the decrease in body fat could potentially result in $8 billion in savings over a decade, and $35 billion over the patients' lifetimes.
"Obesity is a national epidemic with few useful treatment options. I am hopeful that new therapies will continue to be developed at a time when members of Congress are looking for Medicare spend reductions with aging baby boomers," said Kenneth E. Thorpe, Ph.D., professor and chair of health policy and management at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health.
These findings suggest that employee wellness programs that encourage healthy living may result in fewer obese staff members, which may save companies significant money on employee health benefits.
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