10 Ways to Monitor Corporate Stress Levels

10 Ways to Monitor Corporate Stress Levels

Good military leaders work hard to balance the

positive and negative stress. Positive stress

encourages high performance. Negative stress

degrades individual and unit capability. The best

leaders know how to use positive stress to get the

most out of their personnel. And they know how to

tone things down to when negative stress threatens


The Army is fanatic about training officers and

sergeants to take care of the troops. And these

well-trained leaders are fanatic about carrying

out their responsibilities. The soldiers in their

command don't always realize why these leaders are

so focused on having everything ready --

personnel, equipment, and training 100 percent


Even the most personable leaders are sometimes

accused of managing "by the book" or of being too

concerned with their own personal recognition and

promotion. But those who make these allegations,

miss the point. Just the opposite is true.

These "fanatic" leaders are primarily interested

in the welfare of their troops. They want to

complete the unit mission with minimum personnel

loss. Strict discipline, intensive and complete

training, and numerous inspections are essential

for combat readiness.

Failing to enforce regulations, conduct detailed

inspections, or practice combat readiness is

tantamount to dereliction of duty. The extra

effort that goes into intensive training programs

creates additional stress in the unit, but less

persistent commanders actually endanger their

troops and their mission when they fail to

schedule training that teaches troops how to deal

with stress.

---Detecting Stress---

Some corporate jobs are just as stressful as

military assignments. And some ongoing business

situations are as stressful as armed combat. You

can find the stressed employees by monitoring the

frequency of the conditions such as:

1. Anxiety

2 Indecisiveness

3. Irritability

4. Complaining

5. Forgetfulness

6. Loss of self confidence

7. Argumentativeness

8. Insomnia

9. Rapid emotional shifts

10. Physical exhaustion

--- How to objectively measure stress ---

Privacy laws prevent accumulation of specific

medical histories. But there are ways to get a

handle on what's going on in your company.

Here are some practical ways to bench mark current

levels and monitor future stress related


1. Absences - require strict reporting. Watch for

changes or trends; The more absenteeism, the

greater the chance that stress is a factor.

2. Tardiness - Develop a daily report and weekly

summaries. Are some departments worse than others?

Are people arriving late because they dread the

upcoming stress?

3. Medical claims - Seek generic information from

your health insurance company on the number and

expense of medical claims. Categorize information

by type of ailment and observe how the frequency

of visits compares to major corporate activities

or stressful times of year. You might find that

stressful periods coincide with or precede an

increase in medical claims.

4. Professional assistance - Experts can analyze

the ways stress might be at the root of physical

ailments. They can help you examine the cause-and-

effect relationships that escape the attention of

those who aren't as well trained in stress


5. Complaints or grievances - Keep records by

department. Those with a greater numbers of

complaints are probably ready for some stress-

control strategies.

6. Accident reports - Analyze accident reports

from the perspective of stress involvement.

Research how stress might have been the root cause

of accidents.

7. Errors in judgment or misstatements. Develop a

log of individual errors in judgment and

misstatements. If certain employees are prone to

making misstatements, they are prone to errors in

judgment. Monitor their decision making to

evaluate the cost of stress for your company.

8. Personal relationships - Note changes in the

way people relate to each other and the types of

action that cause some people to become more

argumentative. You can use this information to

control stress for the entire organization or for

specific individuals who are more sensitive to

stressful situations.

9. Customer service problems - Review customer

service problems from a stress perspective.

Determine whether some kind of stress reduction

could improve relations with customers or reduce

the number of errors involved with order taking,

preparation, shipping, or invoicing.

10. Quality problems - Include in your quality

reports a description of stress-related activities

occurring before and during the period in

question. Watch for trends among certain

employees or departments. Try to find the causes

of stress and what can be done to control the

stress reactions.

Corporate leaders and managers sometimes try to

manage the stressed people by using increased

demands and closer supervision. Instead, you

should use stress-reducing techniques to manage

the stressors.

While the demanding remedies of dictatorial

managers might get short-term improvement from

stressed employees, such relief is usually only

temporary. The increased urgency and focus on

details typically generates even more stress, and

the problems shift from slight distractions, such

as back pain, headaches, and inattention, to more

drastic reactions such as absenteeism and medical

problems, both good indicators that stress levels

need attention.

Just as in the Army, most leaders must be taught

to manage stress and to observe for negative

stress reactions. All managers need to understand

the importance of positive stress in maximizing

accuracy and productivity. And they need to know

how to control the negative stress for the benefit

of those involved and the bottom line.

If you don't have qualified staff in your company,

outside consultants and trainers can help you

evaluate current stress levels and train everyone

involved. Remember, stress control is a

leadership responsibility.

To learn more about controlling the top workplace

stressors, request a free 3-session mini course by

sending a blank email to [email protected]

Dale Collie - professional speaker, former US Army Ranger, CEO, and a Fast Company top 50 innovative leader. Author of "Winning Under Fire." (McGraw-Hill) [email protected]

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