Stress is surging in these difficult times, which makes the ability of employees to manage anxiety and pressure and build resilience more important than ever. We can help with our virtual stress management programs, which give your team tools to navigate change in the new normal, strategies to manage job stressors from overwhelm to deadlines, and practices that strengthen mental and physical health.
Stress at work fuels anger, distraction, conflict, and bad decisions, so it makes the job and interaction with customers and colleagues harder than it has to be. For organizations on the front lines of government, technology, health care, education, or any pressure-packed office, a stress management program can empower staff with skills to manage multiple demands, emotional intensity, and tough challenges, especially in times of crisis.
Our Calm in the Storm stress management training, led by stress expert Joe Robinson via Zoom, provides strategies to manage reactions and emotions to take on any challenge. Turn off the false danger signal of the stress response, and the stress stops in four minutes. Employees learn how to flip that switch.
See Video: Joe Robinson explains why dogs are smarter than humans when it comes to stress. 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: Joe Robinson discusses the hazards of reflex behavior and the keys to smarter work and a better work-life. Joe has appeared on Today and CNN, and in Entrepreneur and Fast Company. He has led programs for organizations from 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 46% higher, undercutting wellness efforts. Some 40% of employees cite stress and its health impact as the main reason for leaving a job (Sparks).
Stress can cause any number of expensive medical issues from diabetes to depression. Stress management programs improve employee health by getting to the root of the problems. One study found that a stress management training cut stress in half (Yazdani, Rezaei), while in another absenteeism fell 24% and revenues increased 23% (Munz, Kohler).
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, 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 around them and mirror them in their own expression and emotions. We show 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."
"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’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."
“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!"
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.
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, and disengagement all reduce performance. On the health side, burnout can lead to serious medical conditions from depression to stroke, which drive more absenteeism.
We identify the triggers that drive burnout, teach your team ways to manage stress, 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 Demands-Control Model is one of the most influential in occupational stress research.
The key to managing workplace stress is providing strategies to increase perceived control over stressors, so strain and stress don’t develop. There are crucial levers of control that can give employees a sense they have the capacity to manage a particular demand. Individuals can make adjustments to how they do their tasks to increase perception of control, and, importantly, change how they think about demands, crucial components of our stress management program.
The essence of managing stress is managing thoughts. We have to avoid the mind’s reflex leap into emotional overreactions from stress triggers. Employees learn 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. Each person has the option to buy or not buy thoughts driving stress and how long they stay attached to the stressful event, something our stress management program teaches your team to do (see our article, “How to Turn Off Stress Instantly, and Be as Smart as Your Dog”).
When looking for a stress management program, the goal should be 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 were those programs that utilized cognitive-behavioral methods, training that changes the thinking behind stressful thoughts. It's what employees learn in our programs.
They found that most of the workplace programs used relaxation strategies, but that the lasting effects came from psychological interventions 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 methods “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.”
Having the ability to change, reframe, or shift a stressful thought to something they can control allows employees to manage the source of the stress and not just symptoms. Our comprehensive approach trains employees in the best cognitive-behavioral practices, as well as multiple relaxation techniques, from progressive relaxation to mindfulness.
Managing job stress 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 they come back to the job the next day with the same level of stress, 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 that happens, employees return to work the next day with renewed attention, vitality and positive affect (see Joe Robinson’s article, The Science of Work Recovery).
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.
Deadlines, bottlenecks, message overload, difficult clients and coworkers, and interruptions can all lead to stress reactions. How employees manage demands determines how effective and productive a team or organization is.
Unfortunately, very few people know how to manage stress. It’s a skill the culture doesn’t teach, and, as a result, most employees and organizations are at the whim of the emotional reactions set off by an ancient reflex. Tempers flare, colossal errors are made.
Stress management programs give your team tools to manage their survival equipment, which doesn’t know how to compute the modern world of social stress, the kind we experience in the workplace. 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 stress reduction program:
• 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.
• 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 managed.
• Thorough training in a range of stress reduction practices, 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 teams and organizations. They learn 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.
• A comprehensive training in resilience and how to bounce back quickly, stay out of the pessimistic bunker, and reframe events.
Stress is a such a counterproductive factor in the workplace, and anywhere for that matter, that an organization or team with high levels of it is working with one hand behind the back and a brain divided against itself.
The statistics lay it out in black and white: 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, which is just one of the big reasons why every organization needs to make sure their staff has the tools to manage demands and pressure. The payoffs 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.
2. Reduced medical costs due to stress-related illness and absenteeism. Stress alters major systems in the body that can lead to everything from heart disease to diabetes. Stress-related health problems cost companies five 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 disengagement. 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. Then those people get stressed out and may take it out on others in turn.
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 them with tools to keep stress 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.
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.
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 training gives your team a proactive course to control stress and energize performance. The program changes how employees think and react to tension, anxiety, and overwhelm with the most effective cognitive behavioral and pressure management techniques vetted by the research data.
Employees learn how to catch themselves when reflex emotions trigger ancient survival equipment, and then turn off the autopilot retaliatory behavior. They discover 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 management, prioritization, and work effectiveness tools to recalibrate pressure and give them a feeling of more perceived control. In addition, they learn the keys to recovery and recharging through proactive life skills, hobbies, and recreational outlets.
Learn how this training can increase engagement, teamwork, and results for your organization by clicking here or the button below.
Joe Robinson talks about the reflex habits of workplace stress that drive emotional reactions and 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 trainer for her stress management event. "We searched long and hard to find the right trainer. Joe Robinson was the best choice we could have made," says Sellan.
Attendees at Joe Robinson's stress management workshop talk about how he helped them to manage demands and pressures with a variety of practical processes and techniques.
Find out how a stress management training can solve the challenges of your team or organization. Learn how to equip your talent with 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 the program is 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 will determine whether you have abnormal cortisol levels, 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 the effect of stress 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