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Your Employees are More Stressed Out by Global Warming Than Their Boss

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Why are your employees, especially your millennials, stressed out? Hint: it’s not their job. In fact, Grokker’s latest research study reveals that your employees are more stressed out by the melting polar ice caps than their boss.

Grokker teamed up with SurveyMonkey to examine what most stresses Americans. Contrary to popular belief, the fears keeping Americans up at night have almost nothing to do with the economy and are largely out of their immediate control.

Here’s the good news: specific big picture issues are causing the strain and if you know what they are, there’s a lot you can do about it.

Here are 3 surprising findings from the Grokker 2017 State of Stress Survey, and how you can use these insights to improve your employees’ well-being.

TRUTH NUMBER ONE: It’s Worker Stress NOT Workplace Stress

While the common prescription for combating stress is to manage personal worries such as relationship, financial, or job stress, the Grokker survey revealed that it’s really global, geo-political, and environmental issues keeping Americans up at night.

Americans are more afraid of global terrorism than being killed by a gun (68% vs. 35%). They are more anxious about bigotry, racism, sexism, and xenophobia than their own marriage (66% vs. 33%). And they are more stressed out by the melting ice caps than by their demanding boss (64% vs. 42%).

(Pssst! Want to hear more about what stresses out Americans? Check out our data-packed infographic.)

YOUR ANSWER: Invite the Outside In

Remember that your employees are more than their job titles — and their stress comes from more than their workload. At Grokker, we advise our clients to “invite the outside in”. This means creating opportunities where employees have the chance to connect on a personal level and get to know each other as more than colleagues.

Grokker customer Pinterest has an employee group for moms that includes time for a “mom share,” where members can talk about their personal experiences in a supportive environment. This helps reduce parental burnout and ease employee stress. What about polling your team members to see what’s bothering them and creating support around it? For example, you could create a voluntary “green team” for the environmentally-conscious to advise the company on ways to reduce carbon emissions. When it comes to reducing stress, remember to think outside the workplace.

TRUTH NUMBER TWO: Millennials Are the Largest Part of the American Workforce and They’re Miserable

More than one-in-three American workers today are millennials, according to Pew Research. In 2015, millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. If most of your company isn’t millennials yet, it will be before you know it. For HR leaders, it is vital to understand what makes them tick.

In this year’s survey, millennials reported the highest base stress levels of any age group with 80% feeling stressed and 60% saying their current stress level is negatively impacting their overall happiness. For millennials, misery loves company. More than any other age group, millennials crave social interactions when they’re stressed. 40% of millennials go out with friends when stressed vs. 18% of boomers. And 68% of millennials will choose talk therapy with a friend or loved one vs. 53% of boomers.

YOUR ANSWER: Show Millennials That You Care

If you want Grade A talent you have to speak to the millennials. They want to understand the impact they have, that they are making progress, and that you care. Employee surveys are a great way to give them a voice, show them the company cares, and show how the company (and the employees) can make progress toward these goals.

Further, remember that millennials are social creatures. In the days of smartphones and social media, we crave community more than ever. And your millennial employees expect it in their workplace. That’s why, every Thursday afternoon at Grokker, we host “forced break time” at the office. It’s purely social and it brings employees together to talk about personal things they may not have otherwise. There are a lot of ways to bring your team together for smaller, regular interactions and create a community.

TRUTH NUMBER THREE: Forget Counseling, Employees Want DIY Stress Reduction

According to the survey, a whopping 96% of Americans experienced at least one physical symptom associated with stress since the 2016 Presidential election. This overwhelming atmosphere is spurring Americans’ increased obsession with personal wellness care. About two-thirds of Americans (60%) reported using some type of stress management technique in the last six months and professional counseling was the least popular choice (15%). Instead, Americans turn conversations with friends and family into talk therapy sessions: At 58%, talking with loved ones was the most popular way to reduce stress. Americans also like to exercise (54%) and channel their inner zen with deep breathing (53%).

YOUR ANSWER: Give Employees Permission For Self Care

At Grokker, we believe in cultures that embrace their employees and create an environment where they come first. We help our clients look after their employees’ total well being: their physical, emotional, and spiritual self. The natural result is dedicated, engaged employees, and an enviable company culture that attracts top talent.

It is up to your leaders and the C-suite team to develop an environment where employees are given permission to take care of themselves. The key influencers in the company can make all the difference. For example, SurveyMonkey wanted to help employees break the habit of sitting by creating a culture where frequent stretching and movement breaks are encouraged, not frowned on. SurveyMonkey streamed Grokker videos to offer a weekly five-minute stretch break every Friday in the cafeteria. The first stretch break was led by the SurveyMonkey CEO, encouraging employees to attend and prioritize the break. Employees have kept up the practice in their own smaller groups even after the initiative ended.

Incorporating mind-based practices into a corporate wellness program can serve as a gateway for employees to other health programs. By reducing their stress through deep breathing, mindfulness, or yoga, employees may then feel more confident engaging in physical exercise.

A study conducted by Duke found that highly stressed employees can incur $2,000 in additional health care costs per year compared to less stressed peers. With 96% of Americans experiencing physical and psychological symptoms that are closely associated with increased stress, the potential return on investment for a wellness program targeting stress and mental well-being is clear.

Want more insights into what you can do to create an employee-centric culture and encourage well-being at your company? Download Grokker CEO Lorna Borenstein’s free eBook for HR leaders: 7 Tips to Cultivate An Amazing Culture and get started today.


About the Author: As a Grokker Client Success Manager, Lauren Kasner works closely with HR leaders to develop engaging wellness programs that translate to healthier and happier employees. In her free time, Lauren loves to workout with a Sarah Kusch HIIT video, try healthy, new recipes, and snuggle with her cat, Ivy.

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