Wellness programs should target stress

Stress-free employees work harder and better.

Asking employees to rate their stress levels and incorporating anti-stress treatments into your wellness program may help boost employee health and resiliency, according to a recent Mayo Clinic study published in The American Journal of Health Promotion.

While wellness programs can help cut health care costs and boost productivity, many people drop out or decline to enroll.

“Wellness programs and centres typically initially focus on physical fitness and weight loss,” says Matthew Clark, a clinical psychologist at the Mayo Clinic. “Perhaps by addressing other domains of wellness—stress management, work/life balance, spirituality and resilience—employees might gain the confidence and skills to truly achieve better overall wellness.”

According to the survey, high-stress employees reported a lower quality of life, poorer health, less support and more fatigue than their less stressed colleagues. They were also more likely to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol and to be overweight.

The study showed the biggest differences between stressed and non-stressed respondents were in fatigue levels after a regular night’s sleep and in current quality of life.

So, instead of expecting tired, stressed participants to run off pounds on the treadmill, Dr. Clark suggests organizations could offer them yoga, tai chi, meditation, stress management classes or sessions with a personal wellness coach that would help them reach overall wellness goals.