CNW: Press Release
If the dark clouds of debt are hanging over you, chances are you’re not leaving them at the door when you come to work.
Money worries not only keep us awake at night and unproductive on the job, but also contribute to rising stress levels and increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illness.
A 2014 study conducted by Manulife Financial and research firm Ipsos-Reid documented a direct link between our personal financial wellness, physical and emotional health, and workplace productivity1.
“There were two things we were observing inside our business that made us take on this research in the first place, and they’re symptomatic of what’s happening across the country,” says Nancy Campbell, assistant vice-president of market development at Manulife.
“The first was the percentage of short and long-term disability claims that are related to mental health – at one in three, it’s becoming absolutely epidemic. Ninety per cent of mental health issues in the workplace are stress related. The leading cause of that stress is related to personal finance.
“The second was that our employers were expressing real concern that their employees were unable to get ready for retirement because of all the immediate financial concerns they were facing.”
The report found that those who struggle financially are 16 per cent less productive on the job – for an employee earning $50,000 annually, this translates into $8,000 of lost productivity per year. They also take 25 per cent more sick days than their financially prepared counterparts.
Every challenge can lead to an opportunity and during lean economic times the opportunity exists for staff at all levels to learn resilience and mental fitness strategies.
Dr. Karen MacNeill, a Registered Psychologist at Copeman Healthcare and an expert in performance psychology has worked with clients in a variety of high pressure environments including Olympic athletes and executives leading organizations during difficult times.
“Stress is really the imbalance between perceived demand and perceived resources,” says MacNeill, who facilitates a corporate health workshop at Copeman entitled, “Mental Fitness for High Performance.”
“Battling stress effectively is about self-awareness. Two people going into the same economic situation may react differently – it is important to understand how you are likely to respond. Financial volatility can either be viewed as a threat that can impact performance, or it can be seen as an opportunity to engage the workforce and get more out of them in turbulent times.”
MacNeill says now more than ever, organizations need to invest in their key talent and develop their capability to lead under pressure.
“The approach we take at the Copeman clinic is to empower our patients with a variety of tools and techniques to manage stress and promote wellbeing. When looking at tools for managing work pressures, think of it as a mental fitness golf bag. You wouldn’t use the driver for every shot, but you’d have a variety of clubs for the situation at hand, whether managing conflict, getting perspective, or building confidence.”
MacNeill also suggests that in high pressure environments it is not only important to monitor stress and anxiety but also to keep an eye on physical health as patients struggle to keep up in times of adversity.
“Under periods of stress, people will often shut down or go inward when what we know is best is to go towards, and get support from, psychologists, physicians, financial planners, your manager, or whomever can help with the challenges that are overwhelming you.”
In addition to managing physical health through regular exercise, nutrition and annual assessments, MacNeill counsels her patients to tackle their finances and take advantage of health coaching and stress management workshops.