Life Well Lived: Managing workplace stress

Life Well Lived: Managing workplace stress
A recent survey found 42 percent of workers cited workplace stress as reason to leave their current employer. (File Photo)

By Mara Benner 

Have you recently left a job due to workplace stress? If so, you might be surprised to hear that you are not alone.

A recent survey found 42 percent of workers cited workplace stress as reason to leave their current employer. The same survey found that 80 percent of workers have experienced “somewhat severe illnesses, including missing time at work and other physical ailments, due to work stress.”

Corporate leaders are taking note of the statistics. They are revolutionizing employee health and well-being to retain good employees while also reducing lost productivity associated with workplace stress.

For instance, a recent American Psychological Association and Harris Poll survey found that 50 percent of American workers were impacted by a company’s organizational changes. Those employees were more than twice as likely to report chronic work stress than those not impacted. Of the 50 percent of workers, they were more than four times as likely to report experiencing physical health symptoms, resulting in lost productivity.

Nationally, corporate leadership is well aware of the impact to the bottom line due to increased health costs, lost productivity and increased costs of new recruitment if employees leave.

The National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center has determined that companies are being hit with a double whammy of lost productivity and higher healthcare costs when employees’ stress evolves into a chronic illness such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or lung disorders. The World Bank estimates that these illnesses will cost the global economy as much as $35 trillion between 2005 and 2030.

What do Apple, Google, McKinsey & Company, Deutsche Bank, Proctor & Gamble, General Mills and Aetna all have in common? Along with being highly successful companies, they have reportedly incorporated “mindfulness” programs into their health and wellness offerings, as outlined in a recent Forbes article.

The research supports this initiative. Research by Case Western Reserve University found that mindfulness training of employees resulted in positive outcomes. Employees had improved focus and engagement with others. In particular, the research indicated improvement in three qualities: stability, control and efficiency.

The University of Washington conducted a study on the use of meditation with employees. The results indicated that employees improved in four key areas. The employees stayed on task longer, were less distracted, had improved memory and alleviated stress.

After did its first analysis on workplace stress, it decided to review how companies are revolutionizing health and wellness initiatives. Here are some of its findings:


Intuit offers its employees meditation and mindfulness classes as reimbursable expenses. Intuit also offers incentives for employees engaging in stress-reduction habits such as walking, practicing breathing exercises or listening to calming music.


Microsoft offers its employees a holistic approach to health and wellness. The company offers education and resources for smoking cessation, weight management and fitness training. The company also encourages health screening along with healthy food options. Microsoft also focuses on stress management as well as encouraging its employees to give back to the community.


In addition to a mindfulness program, Google offers a holistic approach to health and wellness. It has an array of healthcare services onsite for health screenings and stress management. Google offers an opportunity to learn through professional development, encourages its employees to adopt financial wellness and supports volunteering in the community to achieve an improved work-life balance.

Mara Benner is the founder of Four Directions Wellness, intuitively connecting body, mind, emotions and spirit. The organization is affiliated with the GW Center for Integrative Medicine and offers individual sessions, classes and consulting. Learn more at