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Stress Right

Cost of Stress – Arkansas Bankers Association Speaker

Stress in Banking – What are the Costs?

*Originally published in The Arkansas Banker Magazine

An organization’s most important asset is its workforce.  This is especially true in the banking industry. 

Stress affects individual employee performance and overall operational readiness to the tune of $300 billion annually.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2016, “Work-related stress is the leading workplace health problems and a major occupational health risk, ranking above physical inactivity and obesity.”  Towers Watson reports in their annual survey that it is not just a US problem but the most prevalent health issue in the world.   Dr Batman of Virgin Pulse notes that “psychological challenges are so widespread that workplaces should view them as inevitable and plan accordingly”. In a recent Global Business Challenge survey they noted that (lack of) sleep, high stress and happiness were the most prevalent health issues that greatly influenced presenteeism.

Consider stress in the banking industry, for example. According to ComPsych’s 2017 StressPulse survey, a typical employee experience may include:

  1. LOST DAILY PRODUCTIVITY DUE TO STRESS― (Less than one in four (23%) report stress is not a factor. 41% lose 15-30 minutes per day, 36% lose 60 minutes or more per day; only 23% report stress is not a factor
  2. LOST WORK DAYS DUE TO STRESS―55% miss 1-2 days per year, 31% miss 3-6 days per year, and 14% miss more than six days per year.
  3. PRESENTEEISM (Coming to work when too stressed to be effective)―46% come to work in this state 1-4 days per year and 29% come to work in this state five or more days per year. Only 25% report that stress is not a factor.

These three stress-related business factors can result in dramatic losses in your profitability.  Let me show you:

An average bank branch in Arkansas, on any given workday from open to close (10 hours), could employ 13 individuals who average $18/hr.

According to calculations based on the StressPulse survey, that branch would experience the following annual losses due to stress:

• $31,137.56 in lost productivity

• $7,160.40 in lost workdays

• $13,520 in presenteeism

Taken together, these figures total $52,818 dollars lost to poor stress management in a single branch. Across all employees, this averages $4,063 dollars per employee, per year.  Multiply $4,063 loss with the 20,000 banking employees in Arkansas and the total climbs to over eight million dollars a year.

To be sure, this example is an estimation based on one survey.  However, in my experience, the lost productivity time per day does seem realistic. 

Even if the dollar loss is an approximate, it is likely underestimated because it does not take into account how stress influences other aspects of employees’ lives and

career. For example, high-stressed employees:

• Incur 46% higher healthcare costs

• Experience more frequent on-the-job accidents

• Demonstrate increased turnover

• Exhibit poorer customer service skills

• Responsible for increased number of mistakes

These five additional factors could easily double the loss in productivity cited above.

What can you, as a leader in banking, do about this?  I am here to help, both in this article and on August 3, when I have the honor of Keynoting your Annual Convention in Little Rock.  

First, determine what causes employee stress.  The top three causes cited by the StressPulse respondents:

• Workload (39%)

• Interpersonal Issues (31%)

• Work-Life Balance (19%)

Those factors in banking, as well as other industries, are major issues that need attention and appropriate interventions .  Combine that with the additional stress from industry and regulatory changes that will be forthcoming, now is an excellent time to focus on better managing stress and presenteeism in banking.

The primary solution for turning stress at work from a negative force to a motivating one is “Arousal Reappraisal.”  In this context, arousal refers to when something happens that is stressful enough to interrupt your thinking and become “top of mind.”  Reappraisal is how you choose to “appraise” or view that situation after the initial shock passes. Another word for this would be – Resilience

Examples of stressful moments could include:

• A branch manager learning of a possible merger

• A loan officer discovering that she lost a loan to a competing bank

• A teller seeing a difficult customer walk into the branch

A normal initial response to those situations is to think, “Oh no!”  This first response is instinctual and beyond our control.  Once the initial flush of emotion is over, however, it becomes evident who thrives under stress and those who struggle with it.

PULL OUT/TABLE/SIDEBAR:

  • Thrivers exhibit consistent motivation, energy, and resilience .
  • Strugglers display fluctuating energy, and lack the same levels of motivation and resilience.
  • Strugglers let the emotions caused by the stress trigger a “threat mindset,” which drives their focus to the potential negative outcomes. This process triggers a powerful mental and physical response that can fuel procrastination and significantly hinders their ability to react in a timely mannerThrivers have learned to overcome this “threat” instinct.  After the shock of the stress event is over, they simply reframe the situation into what psychologists call a “challenge mindset.”  In this approach, they focus on what they can do to improve the situation versus focusing on the potential threats, which are mostly outside of their control.

Here are five questions you can ask to help diffuse stress and trigger the “Challenge Mindset” in yourself and your employees:

1. What can I/we do in this situation?

2. What do I/we need to learn to solve this issue?

3. What have I/we learned about this topic in the past?

4. Who can help me with this issue?

5. Who can I help with this issue?

Anytime you feel or see others experience that familiar flush of stress, remember to take on a Challenge Mindset and you can use that stress to fuel success.

Andy Core is an expert on thriving in high-demand workplaces.  He is also an award-winning speaker on productivity, stress and balance, and author of Change Your Day, Not Your Life.  For presentation information, visit www.andycore.com/speaker.  For more info on beating stress, see http://andycore.com/e-newsletter/ or follow him on Twitter @andycore.

 

Success Under Stress: Get Refocused On The Big Picture With Three Simple Steps

In this video Andy shares how to get re-motivated and at your productive best by getting refocused on the big picture.  This video helps improve motivation, sales, customer service and overall wellbeing.

 

“Staying focused on the big picture motivates you and increases productivity.

But, when stress hits, or when you get really busy, it becomes harder and harder to stay focused.

So, I’m going to share with you one quote and three steps that will inspire you, energize you and help you be way more SUS.

“The people who matter right now are the people who can simplify this complex, and sometimes scary world we live in, take people by the hand and show them a path to a better life.”
– Malcolm Gladwell

Three steps to getting refocused on the big picture:

1. Simplify

2. Take by the hand

3. Show them a better path

Stress speaker and author Andy Core presents video ideas from his Keynote speeches and workshops.  For more information on his speaking engagements call 800-605-8480 or email nanci(at)andycore.com

 

Q&A Tips on Improving Productivity at Work

Thrive at work

Increasing productivity through better work-life balance

Stress Motivational Speaker Shares Time Management Advice

Since I write and speak on stress and productivity, I’m often asked, “What do you do personally to stay productive?”  Here are a few of the common Q&As.

What are your favorite time management tactics?

I practice (and preach) Big Box Time Management.  it is a concept that helps you feel accomplished at the end of the day so that you can leave work at work, enjoy your personal time more and fall asleep easier at night.  It is simply identifying what you must do in a day to feel accomplished.  That is sometimes a more productive way to refocus than asking yourself, “How can I do more?”  Here is a link to a LightBoard Video where I explain the concept Big Box Time Management.  

What is your greatest challenge when you manage time?

The biggest challenges for me are two sub categories of time management.

* Ping management – How good am I at designing my day so that technology does not interrupt my workflow?

* Opportunity management – How good am I at choosing the right opportunities to focus on?

What about when you just don’t feel like being productive?

One of the key concepts in my new book, Change Your Day, Not Your Life is:

“Motivation is just momentum in disguise.”  

Arrange your day and your thinking so that you can get on productivity runs throughout your day.  For instance, the first thing you do when you arrive at work or return from lunch creates the momentum for the next few hours. Choose your first actions wisely.

What do you do to be more productive?

The first step that I do is to define how I want to approach increasing productivity.  Should I try a new approach or should I focus on doing what I’m currently doing faster or more efficiently? I define this process in this video – Importance of Productivity in the Workplace and 3 Steps to Improve It.  After I get clear on my approach to improving productivity, I run the idea through my P=META formula so that I can get and stay focused and motivated.  Finally, I choose one idea, one change to focus on.  One of the biggest reasons you, I, any success focused person misses their goal is that they are trying to hit too many goals at one time.

I hope this Q& A on how I approach improving productivity is helpful.  If you have a question you would like me to answer, just post it in the comments section below and I will add to this post.  Thanks for being here!

 

Success Under Stress – Improve your energy and immunity with a better Future View

Beat stress with optimism

Future view, stress and immunity

Summary: Have you ever came down with a cold right after you finish a big project or return from a trip? Stress can zap your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness and infection.  You can, however, increase your immune system’s strength with a better future view.   This article and video give you three solid steps to improve yours.  (Also published on Success.com)

 

When you think about your future, how positive is that picture?  Your future view either sabotages your energy and makes you more likely to get sick or it increases your positive energy and resiliency to stress and illness.

We think about the future many times each day.  Each time you do, what do you focus on?  Is your view of the future optimistic and full of possibilities, or is filled with stressful and worry? 

After 23 years of being a stress motivational speaker and researching working adults, I’m absolutely clear on one thing:

People who thrive under stress have better future views.

Let me back up that statement with some research.  In a 2010 study published in Psychological Science, researchers studied 124 law students to determine if their future view, how optimistic they see their future, affected their immune system.  They found that those with a more optimistic view of their future had significantly stronger immune responses. 

Meaning, their attitude made their body better at fighting infection.

That’s interesting don’t you think?  It gets even more interesting. 

As a “motivational speaker” on stress and productivity, I sometimes get push back when I share that being optimistic gives you a strategic advantage in life.  Some will say, “I’m just not that optimistic of a person.”

The really interesting aspect of this study is that the researchers found that the students baseline level of optimism did not have a significant affect on their immune system. 

This is great news, because you don’t have to be full-blown optimist to get the amazing benefits of improving your future view.  Even cynical, pessimistic, “dooms dayers”  can get the same, full benefits of an improved immune response if they improve their future view. 

We don’t have control over what the future holds, but we do have control over how we view our future.  This study shows that our bodies are designed to thrive when we look forward with optimism.  

Here are three steps to help you create a better future view:

A. Take a mental snap shot of your current future view.

What do you see when you look to the future?  How does that picture make you feel? 

B. Improve it.

Identify anything that can help support a better future view.  I flesh out how to do this in another stress management video, called 1 out of 3: How people who thrive under stress stay motivated.

C. Make it a pattern.

Whenever you think about the future, I want you to make that a trigger to refocus on how to make the future look better.

For example, I was the closing Keynote speaker for a group of meeting professionals call the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.  Their organization is going through some big changes.  I asked them, and I ask you – When you look to the future are you focusing on the uncertainty or the opportunity?  The added work or the chance to stand out?  The loss of stability or appreciation for what you have?

By choosing a more optimistic view, you will not only increase your energy and motivation, but you will strengthen your immune system.

I know this is a simple idea, but the better you get at developing a better future view the better your chances are at being successful under stress.

Contact Andy Core if you would like to improve the future view of your people – 800.605.8480, nanci@andycore.com

CITATION: Optimistic Expectancies and Cell-Mediated Immunity: The Role of Positive Affect.” Segerstrom, Suzanne C.; Sephton, Sandra E. Psychological Science, Volume 21 (3), February 2010, Pages 448-455.

 

Control Your Focus = Better Productivity & Less Stress

As a “motivational speaker” on stress management and productivity, I Keynote lots of association events where psychologists, therapists, counselors and other mental health professionals are in attendance.

The more I researched and chatted with those mental health professionals, the more I started to see a pattern in how they helped those who are feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

Ask them what they believe the root cause of most stress and anxiety is, and you’ll hear it is people trying to control situations or people that lie outside of their control.

  • Business leaders and owners feel anxiety about the potential future of their companies.
  • Parents and those in relationships stress about actions their loved ones might take.
  • People under deadline worry what might or might not occur if they fall short of their big goals.

These are certainly all important concerns, but if they are what you focus on daily, you are headed for a challenging road that will likely lead you away from your desired destination.

This coming year, hit more of your goals by consistently reminding yourself and others that a daily focus on execution beats worrying about outcomes all day, every day.

Here is a video on this idea. It is on beating holiday stress, but it is also a great way to create New Year’s Resolutions you are much more likely to hit.

 
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Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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