With work stress at an all-time high, according to Gallup's 2022 Workplace Report, the ability to manage anxiety, pressure, and overwhelm is more important than ever. We can help. Our stress management programs give your team tools to build mental health, resilience, and positive outlook by managing reactions and emotions that drive stress and burnout.
Stress in the workplace fuels anger, distraction, impatience, and bad decisions, so it makes the job and interaction with customers and colleagues harder than it has to be. When employees have the skills to manage reflex reactions, they can navigate deadlines, multiple demands, and emotional intensity, even in tough times.
Our Calm in the Storm stress management program, led by stress management leader and author Joe Robinson, whose new book, Work Smarter, Live Better, shows how to manage stress and all the things that drive it in the workplace, provides smarter-work strategies to take on any challenge. Turn off the danger signal of the stress response, and the stress stops in three minutes. The skills of stress management let your employees turn off that signal and turn on performance and engagement.
See Video: Joe Robinson explains why dogs are smarter than humans when it comes to stress. He shows in a stress management program how they can teach us a thing or two about a crucial element of managing stress and our minds: how to not hang on to stressful events for days, weeks, and months on end. Learn how to drop stress like an old chew toy.
See Video: At a stress management training, Joe Robinson discusses the hazards of reflex behavior and the keys to resilience and smarter work. Joe has appeared on Today and CNN, and in Entrepreneur and Fast Company. He has led programs for organizations from Amazon to IBM to Nestle, Kellogg's, LEGO, the Reserve Bank of India, and Anheuser-Busch.
When employees don't know how to manage workplace stress, it manages them — at the cost of fatigued and distracted minds and higher medical bills. The health tab for employees with high stress is 26% higher (Azagba), undercutting wellness efforts. Some 40% of employees cite stress and its health impact as the main reason for leaving a job.
Stress can lead to any number of expensive physical and mental health issues, from high blood pressure to diabetes to depression. Stress management programs improve employee health by getting to the root of the problems. One study found that a stress management program cut stress in half (Yazdani, Rezaei), while in another absenteeism fell 24% and revenues increased 23% (Munz, Kohler, Greenberg).
Stress is highly contagious. Humans are designed to mirror the emotions and expressions of others. That's especially true of anyone in an emotionally intense job, from fire and rescue to social services, customer service, law, and the medical world, in which people mirror the pain, grief, and stress, of others.
The same dynamic happens in the high-pressure, always-on office world, causing people to pick up on the stress and time urgency of others in the workplace and mirror them in their own expression and emotions. Our Calm in the Storm stress management program shows your team how to stop the emotional contagion.
Joe Robinson explains in an interview with Gerri Willis why stress is contagious and how we can avoid mirroring the stress of others.
“We searched long and hard to find the right trainer for our stress management event. We didn't want airy-fairy but something practical to help us with the uncertainties ahead. Joe Robinson was the best choice we could have made."
“Joe Robinson's training was extremely valuable to our supervisory staff. I'd recommend the training for any organization trying to find the right balance between high performance and employee engagement.”
“Joe was an inspiration! The sessions with Joe were fun and interactive. He gave us valuable tools to carry forward."
“THANK YOU for your time and expertise! The team has raved about the sessions and, as a Business Management Team, we are actively working on adjustments to our business practices to try and operationalize some of the learnings! We REALLY enjoyed the time together and would highly recommend the sessions to other companies. Thank you for making the program available to companies of our size! It’s a difference- maker!"
"Joe presented to our top sales group and our executive team on a recent awards trip. The presentation provided takeaways that the group put right to work. We had great feedback from the team. They thoroughly enjoyed his presentation. Do yourself a favor and check Joe out! It is well worth it!"
“Joe presented at our annual conference, speaking to board members, senior leadership, and clinicians. Members are still talking about his presentation. Talk about speaking the truth. It was like being in church with all the 'Amen's' and 'YESes.' Joe is an inspiration, and we have all committed to making personal changes after his show!"
"Joe’s training for our leadership team
"Joe's training was ideal—and perfectly timed for our needs and workforce. The feedback from managers was universally positive!"
“Your talk included useful and important information presented clearly and cleverly, along with a nice touch of audience engagement. The audience learned something and enjoyed the experience. After almost 40 years of teaching and speaking at professional conferences I know very few people can do this effectively. You can and did!"
“Joe Robinson is a true inspiration."
“Thank you for spending the week with us and making an impact for our people and our company. I've heard nothing but very positive comments and feel that your message will make a difference in all our lives."
“This session came at a great time for our employees with so many feeling the burden of stress. Joe was engaging and gave great tips on reducing stress and taking control of the day."
“ As co-chair of the Fall Conference, I was very nervous regarding how my peers would receive the information from the training. We all work in fast-paced stressful work settings. Everyone kept commenting on how wonderful the training was and how interactive it was. Some told me about which tips they were going to use right away. I felt the same and, on my drive home after the conference I was speaking to my daughter and shared a few tools she could use in her everyday life as a college student. I highly recommend this training for everyone."
The last stage of chronic stress is burnout. The body has been overactivated for so long it has drained all coping and energetic resources. What’s left is exhaustion — mental, physical, and emotional — which undercut productivity in a big way.
Burnout is a serious mental and physical health condition. The main domains of burnout — exhaustion and cynicism — are the opposite of employee engagement: energy and commitment. The symptoms of burnout (see "The 7 Signs of Burnout"), such as withdrawal from others, cynicism, low energy, loss of self-esteem and efficacy, and disengagement all reduce performance. On the health side, burnout can lead to serious mental health issues, such as depression, as well as debilitating physical repercussions such as high blood pressure, which drive more absenteeism (see Joe Robinson's article for Men's Journal, "How You Get Burnout, and How You Overcome It").
Our stress management programs identify the triggers of chronic stress that drive burnout, teach your team the essentials of stress management to control them, and map out a path to rebuild energetic resources and prevent a return of burnout.
Job stress is triggered when a demand, or stressor, threatens to overwhelm capacity to cope with it. When the demands are not too high and the employee feels he or she has personal control over them, the pressure can be seen as a challenge or motivation—so-called “good stress.” “When demands are high and the individual has little control over them, the negative consequences of strain or stress develop,” explained the University of Massachusetts's Robert Karasek in an interview with Joe Robinson. Karasek’s Job Demands-Control Model is one of the most influential in occupational stress research.
The key to managing workplace stress is having strategies to increase perceived control over stressors, so strain and stress don’t develop. There are crucial levers of control in stress management that can give employees a sense they have the capacity to manage a particular demand. They can make adjustments to how they do their tasks to increase perception of self-control, and, importantly, change how they think about demands, crucial components of our stress management programs.
Stress management is, essentially, managing thoughts. We have to avoid the mind’s reflex leap into emotional overreactions from stress triggers. Our trainings show employees how to separate their thoughts from themselves and reframe the false stories of stress from worst-case scenarios to factual stories that are survivable and manageable, which brings stress levels down in minutes. Each person has the option to buy or not buy thoughts driving stress and choose how long they stay attached to the stressful event (see our article, “How to Turn Off Stress Instantly, and Be as Smart as Your Dog”) as well as to the ruminative track that leads to mental heath issues, something our stress management programs help your team avoid.
When looking for a stress management program, the goal, no doubt, is one that gets results and makes a real difference in stress levels. Researchers have weighed in with their assessment of what really works. One metastudy that analyzed 36 different studies that utilized 55 interventions (Richardson, Rothstein) found that by far the most effective approach to workplace stress management training were those programs that utilized cognitive-behavioral methods, training that changes the thinking behind stressful thoughts. It's what employees learn in our stress management programs.
They found that most stress management programs used relaxation techniques, but that the lasting effects came from psychological interventions to manage stress more than physiological ones. “Cognitive-behavioral interventions consistently produced larger effects than other types of interventions,”reported Richardson and Rothstein. They concluded that, although relaxation techniques “may reduce or eliminate troubling thoughts or feelings, they do not direct the individual to confront dysfunctional ideas, emotions, or behaviors. Thus, these are basically passive techniques. Cognitive-behavioral interventions, on the other hand, are more active. These interventions encourage individuals to take charge of their negative thoughts, feelings, and resulting behavior by changing their cognitions and emotions to more adaptive ones.”
Stress management is the ability to change, reframe, or shift a stressful thought to something controllable, allowing employees to manage the source of the stress and not just symptoms and prevent the creation of chronic stress. Our comprehensive stress management programs offer the best cognitive-behavioral practices, as well as multiple relaxation techniques, from progressive relaxation to mindfulness, to bring skillful reaction-management to counter workplace stress.
Managing stress is often overlooked in the scheme of wellness in the workplace, yet it’s key to employee health and well-being. Since it suppresses the immune system, fuels high blood pressure and drives negative rumination, chronic stress is at the root of almost all the physical and mental health conditions that drive productivity, talent, and costs south—from heart disease to diabetes, depression, anxiety, hypertension, insomnia, high heart rate, fatigue, irritable bowel, and back pain.
Wellness starts at the top. It’s the mind that runs the stress show and its countless physical, mental, and social side-effects. When employees have strategies for stress management to reappraise the thoughts and reactions that lead to physical and mental health issues, it not only prevents those problems, it creates a receptivity to wellness behaviors the fatigue and negative mood of stress normally prevent.
The change in mental outlook is one of the best outcomes of a stress management program. Employees go from emotion-based reactivity to constructive thinking focused on problem-solving to manage stress. Stress burns up energetic resources needed for productivity and health. Relieve stress, and the body can refuel physical vitality and positive emotions, two crucial ingredients in productivity (Fredrickson). Managing workplace stress is the most direct route to lasting wellness.
Stress management is not just about what happens during working hours. The science of work recovery has shown that employees have to be able to turn off thoughts of work at home, or stress permeates their personal life, and they come back to the job the next day with the same stress level, negative affect, and mental fatigue. Building wellness is a holistic, work-home effort.
Employees need to be able to detach themselves after work from the pressures of the workday, so that the parasympathetic nervous system, the restorative counter to the activation of stress, can allow the “rest and digest” processes to replace resources burned up by work strain and recharge health and wellness. When employees relieve stress through recovery strategies, they return to work the next day with renewed attention, vitality and positive affect (see Joe Robinson’s article, The Science of Work Recovery), prolific researcher Sabine Sonnentag has reported in her work.
Our stress management program teaches employees the chief recovery practices to switch off stress at home, from mastery activities and skill-building to relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, and experiences that promote positive mood, self-control, and satisfy core needs. Proactive strategies to vitalize the mind and body at home go hand-in-hand with adjustments at work to energize health and wellness, provide ongoing stress relief, keep mental health issues at bay, and improve work-life balance (see Joe Robinson's article in Men's Journal, "How to Leave Work at Work").
Deadlines, bottlenecks, message overload, difficult clients and coworkers, and interruptions can all lead to an increased stress level. Stress management gives your team tools to handle the demands and determines how effective and productive your employees or organization can be.
Unfortunately, very few people know how to manage stress. Stress management is a skill the culture doesn’t teach, and, as a result, most employees and organizations are at the whim of emotional reactions set off by an ancient reflex. Tempers flare, errors are made.
Our stress management program gives your team tools to manage their survival equipment, which doesn’t know how to compute the modern world of social stress, the kind that leads to workplace stress. Employees learn how to manage the reactions and emotions at the heart of the stress-burnout cycle.
Here are some of the key components that should be a part of any program for reducing workplace stress:
• A way to assess stress levels and measure progress. Employee surveys and other testing help provide success metrics.
• An understanding of the ancient survival mechanism that turns on the fight-or-flight equipment and what kind of threats trigger it. Employees also need to know how stress alters key systems in the body, leading to high blood pressure, digestive problems, and insomnia with chronic stress.
• Tools that give your team multiple levers to increase perceived control over demands and pressures. When we adjust how we do our jobs and think about them, we are able to use what is known as cognitive appraisal to control the demands.
• The ability to manage catastrophic thoughts and “awfulizing,” patterns of self-talk triggered by stress reactions. The mind has a mind of its own, unless it's bolstered by stress management.
• Thorough training in a range of stress management techniques, so team members have a variety of ways to stop the stress in its tracks, and work recovery strategies when they get home from the office.
• The knowledge to prevent the emotional contagion of stress, which spreads across the workplace. Our stress management training shows how to resist the effects of secondhand stress.
• Skills to improve time management, deadline and time estimation, and information overload. All of these drive stress and aggravation, and all function more effectively with a mind focused by stress relief.
• A comprehensive training in resilience and how to bounce back quickly, stay out of the pessimistic bunker, and reframe events.
• Work recovery strategies from relaxation to mastery activities that allow the body and mind to recuperate, recharge, and tap into the proven stress relief provided by an engaged personal life.
Stress in the workplace is a such a counterproductive force that an organization or team with high levels of it is working with the equivalent of one hand behind the back and a brain divided against itself.
The statistics lay it out in black and white: Workplace stress costs American business $407 billion a year in everything from medical bills to absenteeism to recruiting and training costs, reports University of California Irvine researcher Peter Schnall, founder of Healthywork.org.
Stress drives disengagement, and that kills job satisfaction, which are two of the big reasons why leaders and human resources departments need to safeguard their talent by making sure staff has the tools to manage demands and pressure and keep stress levels down. Payoffs from our stress management program include:
1. Increased productivity. Stress constricts the brain to the perceived crisis of the moment, which takes attention away from the task. It requires more effort to do the job when you’re stressed, which results in it taking longer to finish the task. Stress management skills increase focus and performance.
2. Reduced medical costs due to stress-related illness and absenteeism. Our stress management training shows how the fight-or-flight response alters major systems in the body, which can lead to everything from heart disease to diabetes. Health problems from workplace stress and the depression it can lead to at its end stage, burnout, cost companies multiple times more to treat than the average workplace malady (Goetzel). Managing stress stops the absenteeism revolving door and dramatically increases health and well-being.
3. Increased engagement — and revenue as a result. Stress leads to negative emotions, cognitive exhaustion, and cynicism. All of them can lead to a disengaged workplace. Healthy, positive, focused minds result in engaged employees, which energizes output, attitudes, and revenue (up 23% in one study — Munz, Kohler).
4. Less conflict and emotional contagion. Stress activates the aggression hub in the brain, which adds to the “fight”-or-flight reaction. It makes us lash out at others, known as stress-induced displacement aggression, and we feel better afterwards. Stress relief helps people feel better so they don't need to lash out.
5. Increased attention and reduced distraction. Attention is the chief productivity tool. Research shows that the more attention you have, the less stress and vice-versa. A good employee training builds focus and concentration by arming staff with tools to keep the stress of distractors, such as information overload and social media, at bay.
6. Improved retention. High stress levels drive good employees to leave companies. Some 40% of employees who exit companies do so because of stress. This puts your top talent and bottom-line at risk. Employees who face mounting health problems as a result of stress quickly become disengaged and open to opportunities elsewhere. Give employees proven tools to relieve stress, and commitment grows.
7. Dramatically fewer mistakes and errors. Stress hijacks the modern, rational brain and puts an ancient part of the mind in charge. It results in System 1 thinking — impulsive, shallow, jump-off-the-cliff. Your team can make major mistakes when caught up in costly, knee-jerk, irrational emotions, reactions our stress management programs help them avoid. Stress relief makes sure your team is using their rational faculties.
8. Increased innovation. The distraction of stress shuts down creativity. It keeps the mind ruminating about a false belief, instead of having the calm space to imagine. The seeds of innovation come from allowing the mind to wander and play, which stress suppresses.
Our Calm in the Storm stress management program gives your team a proactive course to manage stress and energize performance. The training program changes how employees think and react to tension, anxiety, and overwhelm with the most effective cognitive behavioral, pressure management, and stress management techniques and best practices, vetted by the research data. Its practical and inspirational tools, delivered in an interactive format, give any training manager a great learning combination.
Employees discover how to catch themselves when reflex emotions trigger ancient survival equipment, and then turn off the autopilot retaliatory behavior. They learn how to think before they react and to reframe and manage thoughts, emotions, and stressors, so they are no longer at the whim of default fight-or-flight (see Joe Robinson's article, "How to Control the Hidden Engine of Stress").
They also get time management, information overload, prioritization, and work effectiveness tools to reduce stress and give them a feeling of more perceived control. In addition, they learn the keys to recovery and recharging in their personal life through proactive life skills, hobbies, and recreational outlets, plus how those activities increase self-esteem and happiness, and how to put work-life balance on the calendar.
Learn how reducing workplace stress can increase engagement, teamwork, and bottom-line results for your organization by clicking the button below.
Joe Robinson shares with his stress management training participants how reflex emotional reactions get in the way of effective performance and a balanced approach to work and life.
Linda Sellan of Nestle Global shares why Joe Robinson was the right leader for her stress management program. "We searched long and hard to find the right trainer. Joe Robinson was the best choice we could have made," Sellan said.
Attendees at Joe Robinson's stress management program talk about how he helped them to manage demands and reduce stress with a variety of practical processes and techniques.
Find out how our stress management programs can solve the challenges of your team or organization and provide Human Resources with a cost-effective way to increase wellness and job satisfaction. Give your employees the skills to manage demands, pressure, and stressors. It's all based on the research and best practices. Click the button below and see how cost-effective it is reduce stress and how much healthier, focused, and productive your team can be.
It’s crucial to measure stress levels on a regular basis to prevent serious health and heart issues. How do you know if you are in the danger zone? Here are some of the main stress tests:
Saliva Test. This may be the simplest test, one that checks cortisol levels at various times throughout the day. You simply leave a saliva sample in a test tube-like device. You can buy saliva test kits over the counter and online. Most experts, though, feel that the saliva test is less accurate than a blood serum test.
Cortisol Blood Test. This test determines your stress level by measuring whether you have an abnormal amount of cortisol, high or low. According to the National Institute of Health, the normal values for a test at 8 a.m. are 6 to 23 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).
Cognitive Stress Test. This written test can be very helpful in identifying stress and various physical byproducts of strain and high demands. The questionnaire can be used in conjunction with other tests, such as a blood test or blood pressure test to map out the impact of stress on your body.
Blood Pressure Test. Keeping an eye on blood pressure is an important tool to track stress levels and their effects on the cardiovascular system. It's key to get blood pressure measured, not just at the doctor’s office, but also at work. The true state of elevated blood pressure may not appear in the calm of the doctor’s room. According to the American Heart Assoc., Stage 1 Hypertension begins at a systolic number (the top number on your BP reading) of 140-159 or a diastolic number (the lower figure) of 90-99. Hypertension Stage 2 is a systolic of 160 or higher and a diastolic of 100 or higher, while a Hypertension Crisis is higher than 180 for systolic and 110 for diastolic.
Electrocardiogram Test (EKG). This test can find underlying issues of heart disease and hypertension. Electrodes measure electrical signals in the heart that can find patterns of rhythms and heartbeats that may be a tipoff to problems.
Exercise Stress Test. Known as a treadmill test, the exercise test measures the way your heart responds to physical effort, and the extra demands can ferret out issues other tests can’t. This test pinpointed an array of problems for Brian
Here are the citations for the stress research mentioned on this page: