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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.

 

Spring Forward. Pros and Cons

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Well Being and Peak Human Performance.

I don’t know about you, but the day after a time change leaves me a bit drained. I wake up too early in the morning after staying awake too late, and I am exhausted way more quickly than I should be.

The good news? I’m about to get off work and it’s sunny and warm outside. Spring is in the air and there is a noticeable change in the energy.

The result?

  • I want to go outside and run. I want to walk my dog. I want to go hiking and climb a tree. I want to do anything that allows me to appreciate this beautiful day.
  • My day flew by. My morning was a blink and my afternoon was a breeze. A bit of fatigue is nothing compared to the energy from a excited day.
  • I’m hopeful. Spring and Summer are the most positive parts of my year. The adventure of life seems a lot more possible when these seasons awaken.

The bad news?

I’m distracted! It’s finally feeling like spring, and after this hellacious winter, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is jumping out of my skin to feel the sun on my face.

Studies show that the most productive days are the ones with bad weather, and because of my distracted, fatigued nature I can tell that my productivity has been less than ideal.

The upside?

Exercise increases motivation and productivity. Therefore, after the lovely evening that I’m about to experience outside, my day tomorrow is sure to be a success.

 

Preventing Burnout In the Workplace

flexibleAt the beginning of the New Year, many CEO’s and managers will be considering what adjustments to make to the benefits package they provide their employees. This year especially, many may consider offering more intrinsic benefits. Over the past few years, it hasn’t been enough to offer salary and health care. Employees want to feel valued in a deeper way.

According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 63 percent of women define career success as having a job that allows them to balance their personal and professional lives. Men are less likely to value this, but still find it important.

This means offering employees flex-time to work from home, respecting vacation time and making sure new responsibilities are feasible before they are assigned.
According to a 2012 poll from the Society of Human Resource Managers, only 10 percent of companies offered formal flex-time.

However, this number is likely to increase. Technology is the main factor which will allow for such job perks. In many office settings, communicating with the fellow employees and/or clients is just as easy through outlets such as email, Skype, GoToMeeting and the phone. As long as the employee is organized, this option should work seamlessly.

Offering work-life balance benefits not only makes an employee feel more successful, but it can also attract top hires and keep them there at less cost to the business. Evidence shows that many people today are more likely to take a job, even if it pays less money, if they are offered flexibility. In addition, studies also show that overall moral will improve, absenteeism will decrease and motivation will be sustained if these benefits are offered.

David Posen, Oakville, Ont. stress doctor and author of Is Work Killing You?, explained the necessity of work-like balance benefits in this article by Harvey Schachter. “Work-life balance is not a luxury. It’s a necessity – for good health, energy and productivity. And there are serious consequences if our lives fall out of balance for too long. Balance is an antidote, a counterbalance, to chronic stress. Balance prevents burnout.”

To create a sustainable business, managers and owners need to maintain a culture that prevents burnout and promotes productivity. Proper work-life balance may be the best method.

 

The Secret Recipe to Productivity

Productivity is one of the most used words in our vocabulary. It’s a quality that matters to both a business and the individual. Everyone wants to feel like their life has purpose, and productivity is a measure of whether or not you’ve applied yourself and have something to show from your day.

There are apps, books and careers dedicated to getting us to be productive and yet, the average person tends to trudge through their day and force their productivity to come out. It’s a chore, not a habit.

In a recently discovered blog called, TYNAN, the article, Why Obsess About Productivity?, got me wanting to pinpoint the key ingredients for productivity.

  1. Be Excited

This might seem obvious, but too many people are living a life that they simply aren’t passionate about. It’s no wonder why the daily tasks that make up their day are less than stimulating. For instance, if you like writing and yoga, these tasks will be easy. They make you happy, and with some intention, they’ll become habits. If you hate running and coding, these tasks will most likely take forever to finish, and even when you did manage to, it’d most likely be done badly.

So before you can change your day to become the better version of yourself, first decide if the way you’re spending your time is actually the way you want to spend it. Reflect over your day. Are you proud of your work, your hobbies, and your habits? If not, what else would you like to do? Zen Habits Leo Babauta gives this encouragement in his article, Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled, “Try a lot of things. When you get good at something, by the way, you’ll like it much more. You’ll suck at everything at first.”

Imagining change is scary, but the idea of doing something that makes you miserable just because it’s available is even scarier. You have one life. Get excited about it.

  1. Make your work a Sprint. Not a Marathon.

This advice comes from Jamie Herzlich’s article, “Small Business: How owners can reduce stress.” The concept is essentially to work hard and stay focused when you’re doing a task rather than attempting to work constantly and running out of steam.

Jeff Haden’s article “The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Really Work,” gave this advice, “Instead of thinking, “What can I get done in an 8 hour day?” I’ve started to think, “What can I get done in a 90 minute session?”

Also, Give yourself breaks after you finish a task and clear your head. This keeps you from “multitasking” for the sake of working, which usually equates to scattered, unproductive effort with little product. If you’re bogged down, try to stretch, walk, or laugh rather than sit in your chair and go on autopilot.

  1. Stop Rushing and Get Organized.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where your server was going nonstop? Did you enjoy the experience? Did it make ordering your food easier? Was your server even doing a better job?

Now imagine that your coworker rushes like this hypothetical server. Does working with a manic manager make you a better employee, or a scattered one? Most people would agree that it’s easier to accomplish a task and enjoy yourself while you do it if those involved stay calm and collected. This point is expanded upon in Will Yakowicz’s article, “Stop Rushing at Work: Stress Makes you Less Productive.” “The key is to plan and prioritize instead of being reactive. Being in control instead of being rushed helps your employees to stay calm, avoid stress, and be more productive.” The point: don’t rush your tasks, rank them.

On this same thought, you don’t have to respond to every email immediately. Instead, try to set aside a few times in your day to respond to all your emails at once so that you don’t lose focus on what you have set out to do.

  1. Stay Motivated

Now that you’re passionate, focused, and organized, the only thing you’ve got to do is maintain that energy. This is done by accomplishing the tasks you’ve set for your day and giving yourself the credit for these achievements. Whether it’s making a checklist and steadily eliminating your tasks, or the positive momentum you’ve collected from knowing that you’re having a successful day, recognize your pattern and repeat it with joy. Because you are now doing a job you love, and you’re doing it well.

Living the dream is possible. You just have to enjoy yourself and set your pattern.

 

When You’re Stressed. Learn.

Andy Core is an expert in Work-Life Balance, Wellbeing, and Peak Human Performance.

learningEverybody needs help occasionally. At some point, we all get stressed out at work and feel like we can’t get everything done that we have to do.

But rather than venting about your situation or trying to trudge through the period of challenge on your own, it’s better to take on a learner’s perspective. Ask question’s and expand your perspective in order to get past your motivational block and gain more information to help you succeed.

Helping other’s is also a good method to become more motivated and get out of your head. Like breaking up soil after a cold winter, sometimes your mindset needs to be cultivated in order to grow.

The best way to do this is to help others and ask questions. Learning motivates you and makes you better as you help others. Remember this the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed.

To learn more on Andy’s programs. 

 
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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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Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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