Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why Your Company Needs a Fitness Program

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Accountancy recruitment firm, Robert Half, recently published research suggesting that three in ten UK HR Directors say employee burnout is an issue. The research concludes that:

  • Workload is the primary reason for burnout in 67% of situations. (This rises to 75% in large, and 73% in public sector organizations.)
  • More than half (56%) blame long working hours.
  • 37% talk about “unachievable expectations” and “economic pressures”, and
  • 27% cite worklife balance challenges.
These results are from the UK but, in reality, they could be from anywhere. Workload, being asked to do more with less, endless travel, economic and financial pressure while balancing a personal/family life creates stress for everyone, regardless of where you live.

In fact, Americans work longer hours, take fewer vacation days, and retire later than employees in other industrialized countries around the globe. This indicates that Americans are more likely to suffer burnout than our peers in other industrialized countries. Now, there is research showing that job burnout can actually compromise your heart health.

Dr. Sharon Toker of Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Management and her fellow researchers — Profs. Samuel Melamed, Shlomo Berliner, David Zeltser and Itzhak Shpira of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine — have found a link between job burnout and coronary heart disease (CHD), the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries that leads to angina or heart attacks.

Those who were identified as being in the top 20 percent of the burnout scale were found to have a 79 percent increased risk of coronary disease, the researchers reported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Calling the results “alarming,” Dr. Toker says that these findings were more extreme than the researchers had expected — and make burnout a stronger predictor of CHD than many other classical risk factors, including smoking, blood lipid levels, and physical activity. You can find more detail by clicking here.

Robert Half's research confirmed some of the root causes for burnout. And, since we now have research that links burnout to cardiovascular risk, what is corporate America doing to mitigate this risk?

One easy answer is to ensure that your company has a program in place that encourages employees to get away from their desks and computers and engage in some form of fitness activity. In addition to reducing cardiovascular risk, companies can benefit from reduced absenteeism and higher productivity. Exercise generates endorphins that boost your mood, the blood flow will clear your mind, and the results will boost your self-esteem.

Fitness activities have the ability to create a healthier and more productive workforce, provided companies take steps to identify burnout risk and take steps to identify early stages of corporate burnout. 

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