Submitted by: David B. Yaden, President and CEO, Integrative Enterprises

Stress has become such an overused and tired concept in both business and personal life that one could be forgiven for thinking that the problem has been well managed by now. That would be a mistake. Despite all of the stress reduction tips in magazine sidebar articles and in the popular media in general, stress is still creating enormous problems with our personal health (heart disease and obesity to name just two), with rising healthcare costs, and in the workplace.

It is impossible to get precise numbers but here are just a few widely cited numbers that help to demonstrate the magnitude of the financial and personal costs of stress:

–       Workplace stress costs the nation more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work and stress reduction efforts.

–       Stress is responsible for 19 percent of employee absenteeism and 40 percent of employee turnover.

–       Research shows that 60 to 90 percent of doctor visits are stress-related.

(Source: American Institute of Stress and Chrysalis Performance Strategies.)

There are proven ways to effectively reduce stress: namely, healthy sleep, diet, and exercise habits combined with relaxation techniques like meditation, muscle relaxation, or even self-hypnosis. Actually integrating these practices into one’s life is easier said than done, however. Facilitating individuals and organizations in the implementation of these wellness solutions is what I do for a living and I could go on all day about best practices for doing this.

But what does this have to do with generation Y?

First, a word on Generation Y. Also called The Millenials, this 76 million member group is where forward thinking marketing and recruitment efforts are being targeted.  Much has been made of Generation Y’s penchant for supporting corporate social responsibility and highlighting this has been effective in attracting this group. For Generation Y, corporate social responsibility goes beyond just “being green.” In fact, as healthcare issues gain increasing attention, wellness (read: prevention) initiatives will be seen as not only nice but necessary for our health care system to remain viable.

Now, what if there was a management strategy that reduces workplace stress for employees, allows companies to directly address a major societal problem, reduces absenteeism and turnover, and is something that members of Generation Y positively crave in their jobs? This strategy is not new but it is still sometimes met with resistance in management, and it is called job flexibility.

Job flexibility has been shown to reduce stress in the workplace and is a big plus for members of Generation Y for social justice reasons as well as more self-centered ones. Generation Y is not only comfortable with flexible work arrangements, they prefer it. They might even take a job that offers some flexibility over one that  pays more!

So, for the sake of public health and for the sake of enticing top young talent, consider offering the option of working remotely and some flexibility as to when one is putting time in at the office.

David B. Yaden is a wellness instructor at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center and an entrepreneur specializing in integrating wellness solutions into organizations. He is available for lectures, consulting, and private sessions on stress reduction and wellness.

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