Is your boss making you sick?

Is your boss making you sick

With business owners and heads of corporate departments looking at ways of tightening their budgets to cope with the global financial crisis, a new corporate challenge is starting to emerge. That new challenge is how to contain the potential increasing cost of health challenges due to the increasing levels of stress in the corporate world.

So how can corporate departments and business owners address the impending health issues during a time when most businesses are considering cutting back on various corporate training or corporate health programs?

You may be surprised that the answer lies outside the realm of most corporate training or stress management programs. If you manage a small or large team in the corporate arena you can significantly improve your team’s health and wellbeing without getting them to change anything. New research suggests that you can boost the health of your team by simply being a good leader…

A study published in the August 2008 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that good leadership has positive effects on employee health and well-being, including decreased sick leave and disability.

All you corporate managers and business owners may be wondering what constitutes good leadership?

In the study these four qualities were associated with good leadership:

A good leader treats employees considerately and truthfully. (Honest)
A good leader cares and provides social support for their employees. (Caring)
A good leader provides inspirational motivation. (Inspirational – being a good role model)
A good leader provides intellectual stimulation. (Knowledgeable)

Led by Dr. Kuoppala Jaana of Siinto, Kiiskilampi, Finland, the researchers searched for studies of the effects of good leadership on key measures of employee health and well-being. Based on the 27 studies, the review provided “moderately strong” evidence linking good leadership to better health of their employees.

A lot of you may be thinking, “That’s nice but what does it mean for the business?”

Workers who had a boss or manager who was a good leader were 40 percent more likely to be rated highest category of job health and well-being (i.e., with low rates of symptoms like anxiety, depression, and job stress). There was also substantial evidence linking good leadership effect on their workers health with reduced sick days and disability. Good leadership was associated with a 27 percent reduction in sick leave and a 46 percent reduction in disability pensions.

It pays to have employees with good health.

These results highlight the financial benefit of entrusting management positions to true leaders who demonstrate honesty, caring, inspiration and knowledge. There is a tendency for management positions to be filled by people who demonstrate superior levels of knowledge without taking into account these other important traits of leadership.

Many factors work can affect employee health. Studies have shown that factors like job control and support influence measurable health outcomes, such as sick leave. The authors said that the findings support the theory suggesting that a strong foundation of leadership, healthy work environment, and good working conditions reduces worker health problems. A number of good studies found an important link between the role of leadership and employee job satisfaction, job health and well-being, sickness absences and disability pensions.

It supports my view that the health of your company may not be best determined by your balance sheet. I believe that the best measurement of a company’s long term health is by the physical and emotional health of its employees.

In these tougher financial times when your budget may not allow for a large corporate health and wellness program, you can begin to significantly improve the health of your balance sheet by ensuring that your various managers aren’t just intelligent, but they possess the true attributes of a leader.

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