Balancing Stress & Resilience

“Glaxo's ‘team-resilience program’ is an example of the innovative approaches some employers are using to combat work-related stress. Experts say job stress and burnout cost businesses hundreds of billions of dollars annually in absenteeism, medical insurance and reduced productivity.

“The Brentford, U.K., pharmaceutical maker says its team-based approach helped reduce work-related mental illness among its employees by 60%, and cut mental-health-related absences by 29%, between 2003 and 2006. In the U.S. alone, Glaxo says the reduced absences saved $1.4 million over those four years...

“Most employers who target stress focus on its effects, by offering counseling, encouraging exercise and giving more flexibility, Ms. Lingle says. Those efforts are helpful, she says, but often don't tackle the causes of stress inside the workplace...

“The program is voluntary. Glaxo says roughly 18,000 of its 110,000 employees have participated -- and the company expects the number to rise.

“Employees on a participating team first complete an anonymous survey that includes questions about potential causes of pressure, such as lack of support, inadequate feedback or scheduling issues. Employees and their managers then discuss the results as a group and look for ways to reduce stress. They repeat the process a year later to see what has changed.

“Dr. Carr says the process often prompts small changes that make a big difference, such as better communication within teams. Other changes are more dramatic. A Glaxo sales group in Puerto Rico agreed to boost the pay of senior sales consultants who mentor junior colleagues. A group in Germany changed how overtime was assigned, allowing employees to bid on the extra hours.

“Ms. Chandler, the newly appointed manager, says her Raleigh, N.C.- based team's half-day session with Mr. Zisek last March helped the employees form bonds and balance resources. She says the publishers, who assemble information for regulatory filings, are now more comfortable asking one another for help.

“Mr. Zisek says that, as the sole manager, he was initially nervous about meeting with four employees simultaneously. But he says most of the feedback was positive.

“The team-resilience program is ‘more than just a way to manage stress, it's a way to make teams more effective,’ says Ann Kuhnen, Glaxo's vice president for U.S. employee health management.”

(“Theory & Practice: Companies Aim to Combat Job-Related Stress; At Glaxo, Program Uses Teams as Part of Effort To Improve Workplace.” Carola Mamberto. Wall Street Journal: August 13, 2007. pg. B.6)

"Form BONDS and BALANCE resources." Stress is vital to all systems. Systems are networks of bonds. In order to balance, look for root causes -- drivers and the levers of those drivers.

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