Ready to make your health a priority in your law practice and daily worklife balance? Lauren Baptiste partnered with ALPS for a 1-hour wellness webinar! Take the On-Demand course: “Why Making a Personal Wellness Pledge is Good for You and for Business” 

“Stress” and “burnout” are two terms commonly tossed around the office, but many of us overlook that they are taking their toll on our physical, mental, and emotional states. Most of us do not fathom the costly effect of stress and burnout on the organization we work for. And next to none of us realize the long-term impact on the profession as a whole. Did you know that your stress is impacting the legal profession?

This isn’t to point blame or to create guilt. Today, we’re peeling back the layers of the proverbial stress onion to understand what’s happening behind the scenes.

THE DIRECT COST OF STRESS

According to this infographic by Eastern Kentucky University’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program, organizations in the US spend approximately $300 billion annually for health care and missed work days as a result of workplace stress. As an employer, that’s a massive annual cost to incur. Broken down, that equates to approximately $2,000 per employed individual. I have a hunch, however, that this already massive number is even higher in professional industries, such as Law and Accounting.

The statistic doesn’t include the intangibles happening inside every stressed professional’s cubicle: lack of focus, low energy, workplace dissatisfaction. Without a plan to reverse the impact of stress, we’re all looking at poorer-quality work products, disrupted health, and higher turnover. Stress is a significant risk management issue when not addressed.

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF STRESS

There are the direct costs of stress, listed as sick days and health care costs, but the indirect costs are likely even higher. The other hidden costs of stress have a significant impact affecting your organization’s bottom line and likely your annual compensation.

These “secret killers” below contribute to an individual’s stress, but also play into impacting another’s stress or an organization’s performance, continuing this unrelenting, vicious cycle.

Health is a contributing factor:

Most of us know what stress feels like. Our bodies can tense up, lose (or gain) weight, develop headaches, and more. But that’s just the beginning. If you’re currently dealing with any of the issues below, then you may be experiencing the direct impact of stress on your mental and physical health:

  • Caffeine or sugar cravings
  • Constipation or gas
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Severe mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Anger, competitiveness, jealousy
  • Hives
  • Adult acne
  • Allergies
  • Infertility
  • And many, many more

According to Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old life science focusing on the elements of nature to create balance and optimal health, there are six stages of disease. When a bonafide disease is identified in Western culture, it’s already at Ayurveda’s fourth stage. If we can begin to release the trapped stress manifested as the ailments listed above, then we can be healthier, stronger, and more effective.

It’s simple, yet profound. By understanding what we need from a basic health perspective to prevent disease, we can be more efficient employees who actually enjoy our day-to-day jobs. Conversely, if we continue to ignore our health, we can expect to see a detrimental impact on employees and employers both.

Presenteeism:

If you’re reading this article to escape your current reality, if only for a moment, you’re not alone. Employees all over the world are suffering from presenteeism. The term “presenteeism” is defined as employees not working at full capacity due to illness, injury, or another condition. That doesn’t apply to you, right? Or does it?

Have you ever had a day that you show up to work feeling “meh?” More specifically, how many hours at your desk last week were wasted because you were feeling physically, mentally, or emotionally unwell? Or the time that your colleague passed their sickness onto you because they refused to go home? That state of being physically disconnected is presenteeism, and it’s costing your company more than you can imagine.

The turnover effect:

We can all agree that excessive stress leads to higher rates of turnover, but it goes further. When someone leaves your organization, the remaining team is required to absorb their work. For many reasons, such as budget constraints and lack of finding quality talent quickly, the industry is seeing a slower recovery from turnover. This leads to an even heavier workload for those remaining, which leads to a domino effect of losing more high-performing talent.

According to the Center for American Progress, the cost of finding a replacement worker for a complex job which requires higher levels of education and specialized training is incredibly high, reaching up to 213% of an annual salary to replace one person. Sounds outrageous, but if you factor in the cost to hire (i.e., head hunters, interviews, onboarding), trainings, time to acclimate, and some of the other costs to replace, you can see why this huge hidden cost is challenging to calculate, but it is absolutely costing organizations a lot of money.

THE PATHWAY FORWARD IS TO START NOW

As Mahatma Gandhi powerfully shared, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” The same goes for your professional working world.

When I work with organizations, I often hear how they understand the need to solve this, but aren’t sure where to begin. It’s important to identify an expert who can support your unique culture and devise a custom workplace solution tailored to your company’s needs.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the newest intern or a long-standing managing partner. If you can identify with what’s been shared, even to a small degree, then it’s important to find other advocates and connect with those who have the authority, budget, and will to improve your workplace environment. By starting with a simple ask you can begin to make a difference.

If you’re curious to learn more, visit the recent ALPS In Brief podcast interview addressing why workplace wellness is a win-win. Further, sign up for the on-demand CLE Webinar — Why Making a Personal Wellness Pledge is Good for You and for Business — where we discuss how to take these next steps into our own hands.

Before you move away from this post and return back to your “day job,” take one immediate action. Thirty seconds of your time could spark real change in your office. Here are a few ideas to start a positive ripple effect:

  • Share this article and podcast with a colleague.
  • Sign up for the on demand CLE Webinar to delve deeper into this topic and integrate healthy habits into your professional life.
  • Send me or my team an email for ways to incite change in your organization.
  • Take inventory of your current state. What small way can you immediately reduce your current stress load? Maybe an act of kindness or more self-care? It’s the small things that end up making a big difference. By working on your personal health and happiness, you’ll begin to benefit those around you.

LAUREN BAPTISTE is a transformational wellness expert, co-creating and collaborating with organizations and individuals impacted by stress and burnout. She is the Creative Founder and CEO of Acheloa Wellness, based in New York, NY. Learn more about her, her business and those she’s impacted by visiting AcheloaWellness.com. You can also email her directly at lauren@acheloawellness.com