Stress can impact anyone, and workplaces are not immune.
It can be easy to minimize the impact of stress on individuals, but given how ubiquitous and harmful it can be, it’s worth taking seriously. With the real estate season heating up, let’s take a deep dive into stress, address how it shows up in the workplace and look at what organizations like Alliant National are doing to support workers.
Stress: the lesser-known facts
When you break stress down, what exactly is it? On a basic level, stress is the body’s response to a demand, the impacts of stress can be acutely felt in the workplace. Any change – good and the bad – can technically be stressful.
There are so many important things to know about stress, but some of the lesser-known facts include:
Stress affects everyone,
Not all stress is bad,
Long term stress can harm your health,
There are ways to manage stress, and
If you feel overwhelmed by stress, it’s important to reach out to a health professional.
Where does stress often show up?
While stress can be anywhere, it frequently pops up in workplaces. Stacy Stolen, HR Director for Alliant National, explains that this can have significant consequences for employees. “Workplace stress has adverse effects on workers’ mental health, with an increased risk of anxiety, burnout, depression and substance use disorders,” said Stolen. “Workers who are stressed at work are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and poor dietary patterns.”
The negative consequences of stress aren’t just limited to employees. It can affect businesses as well. “It decreases employee productivity,” says Stolen. “Interactions with co-workers may become strained, causing increased conflict, more complaints and grievances, health concerns and higher absenteeism.”
Reducing stress begins with awareness
Given how serious stress can be, it’s obvious that there needs to be increased cultural awareness around the topic. And according to Stolen, some things are moving in the right direction: “It has become more acceptable to ‘talk’ about stress,” says Stolen, “but companies are still struggling to manage workplace stress – especially where recent layoffs may have created more stress and burnout. Companies are starting to realize this, but perks like onsite gyms and nap rooms are not the answer to our problem. Companies must go deeper.”
How can workplaces better address stress?
So, what does it look like when workplaces get serious about addressing stress? For Stolen, it means digging into the psychological reasons that are driving a stressed-out employee. “If your employees perceive your workplace as a threat, then you cannot build the trust your team needs to collaborate and innovate effectively,” she said. “Employers need to shift from individual-level to organization-level approaches for reducing stress at work, which can foster employee well-being while simultaneously improving business performance.”
Some may be quick to say this approach is unrealistic; but rest assured, it’s not. As Stolen explains, “My years of experience have taught me that burnout prevention requires reducing workplace stress while also upping employee engagement.”
What is Alliant National’s approach to stress reduction?
Under Stolen’s leadership, Alliant National has put together a plan of action to help reduce workplace stress. While the company has not yet achieved every goal, it is making good progress toward lowering the amount of stress percolating throughout the organization.
One initiative that has been making headway is the Alliant National Employee Engagement team, which is designed to help “employees feel engaged, fairly compensated, rewarded, and personally committed to and inspired by their work.”
Another goal is to actively create a culture where employees not only feel that it is permissible – but encouraged – to take time off to rest and recharge. Part of that involves constantly reminding employees that they have the freedom to take breaks, take their accrued PTO, pursue a flexible work schedule or ask for help in managing their stress.
Stolen is also working on a mental health “challenge,” where she reaches out to managers to ascertain if their direct reports have run up large PTO balances. The intention behind this initiative is to get a better sense of whether team members are actually using the time that they have earned, and if not, to understand why. This upcoming mental health and stress reduction challenge follows on the heels of one conducted in December of 2022.
There is no magic bullet against stress; but progress is possible!
When asked about how she herself manages stress, Stolen was candid: “I have no secret sauce, but what I have learned is that I need to unplug and be able to tell my boss when I am stressed and need help – not so I feel weak, but so I can be good to myself.”
In many ways, this is an effective summary of how we can all get better about managing stress in our lives and particularly in the workplace. There is no magic bullet, but with understanding, trust and open communication, real inroads can be made toward achieving more sustainable and healthy levels of stress.
Few would dispute that there is a mental health crisis in our society. One in five Americans live with a mental health condition, which amounts to nearly 50 million people.[i] But perhaps even more disturbing is that mental health remains heavily stigmatized – despite these statistics. A lack of compassion for mental and emotional health disorders can have serious downstream effects. Sufferers are much less inclined to seek out treatment even if the condition is treatable like depression and anxiety.
In recognition of these societal realities, Alliant National recently conducted a “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative. Led by Stacy Stolen, Alliant National’s HR Manager, the program seeks to address the full spectrum of employee needs, while pushing back on mental health stigmas and promoting inclusive conversations at Alliant National. The results were, and continue to be, quite positive.
Mind, Body, Soul – The Six Dimensions of Health
Stolen says the “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative highlights and addresses six dimensions of employee health:
Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t this program geared toward mental health?” It’s a fair question, but the truth is all aspects of health are interrelated. Physical, social, economic and career circumstances will impact mental and emotional well-being. By discussing the different pillars that contribute to wellness, it makes it easier to act and begin healing, Stolen says.
Whether that be finding programs to help deal with difficult emotions or making changes around the workplace to promote mental health and wellness, you must first have the right conception of the full spectrum of human needs. Only then can you start making changes to feel more healthy, supportive and whole.
Putting it Into Practice
While taking a granular approach to wellness is important, it must also be paired with action. “Mind, Body, Soul” also promotes different actions employees can take to nurture their well-being:
Take breaks: The restorative power of a break is not to be underestimated. Whether you decide to walk your dog or do a 10-minute yoga video, a periodic break can reduce stress and improve productivity.
Take time off: Employees should be encouraged to take their allotted time off. Stolen said it is sometimes hard to remember that the world will not fall apart if you take time off, even if it can be tempting to think so. That’s a common misperception in our society, as statistics show that more than half of all workers do not take the time to which they are entitled.[ii]
Set boundaries: Setting boundaries between your workday and your personal time can help avoid burnout. It’s a mistake to discount the importance of taking time for yourself, as well as your family and friends.
Lunch-and-Learns: Stolen noted that “Lunch-and-Learns” are a great way to help teams connect and collaborate.Alliant National hosts lunch and learns featuring guest speakers, and employees have a chance to check in with one another – both as people and professionals.
Health Resources: Companies looking to promote employee wellbeing may also consider potential vendor resources. Modern Health is Alliant National’s employee welfare platform. Employees can listen to community sessions led by therapists and coaches and ask questions in real time.
How Did the Alliant National Team Respond?
Reflecting on the initiative, Stolen was struck by the amount of positive feedback received from Alliant National team members: “We heard from many employees that they were surprised that we ‘cared’ enough to focus on [‘Mind, Body, Soul’] versus bottom line numbers.”
Similarly, she was taken aback by how quickly Alliant National personnel began reaching out to leverage resources made available to them through their employee status. “I received many phone calls asking for help or advice. The calls included everything from asking where our Employee Assistance (EAP) is located, to inquiring about how to best approach a conversation with a supervisor, to requesting help with navigating health care plans,” Stolen says. “I think it speaks to the fact that we are creating a safe space for people to have inclusive conversations and address their psychological needs. Historically, mental and emotional health is a hard topic for employees to comfortably discuss.”
A Larger Trend and a Personal Mission
Initiatives like “Mind, Body, Soul” did not develop in a vacuum. Instead, they reflect long-running trends in the HR field and the workforce more generally – especially following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the remote work era. “The workforce has changed significantly,” Stolen says. “Employees are demanding that their companies take a more holistic approach to wellness, and I agree!”
It’s also important to note that supporting the entirety of every employee’s needs is not only the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense. “If we do not treat the employee as a three-dimensional being whose needs encompass six distinct categories, we will not recruit and retain top talent,” Stolen says. “Employers not only need to create a workplace that offers growth and opportunity, but one that nourishes the employee in mind, body and spirit.”
For Stolen, “Mind, Body, Soul” is also personal. “To me, HR means ‘Human and Resourceful.’ I aspire to serve all employees at all levels of their being,” she said. “Employees need to be able to embody their entire selves at work – which naturally means creating an environmentthat’s diverse and inclusive. A healthy and happy employee is an engaged and productive one.”
Interested in discussing employee well-being strategies for your organization? Reach out to Stacy – firstname.lastname@example.org
…and our Great Place to Work CertificationTM proves it!
Longmont, Colo. — (June 8, 2021) — Alliant National Title Insurance Company, a unique title insurance underwriter that partners with independent agents to improve their competitive position, is proud to be Certified™ by Great Place to Work® for the fifth year in a row. The prestigious designation is based entirely on what current Alliant National employees say about their experience working at the company. This year, 95 percent of employees said Alliant National is a great place to work – 36 points higher than the rating achieved by the average U.S. company.
Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture, employee experience and the leadership behaviors proven to deliver market-leading revenue, employee retention and increased innovation.
“Great Place to Work Certification™ isn’t something that comes easily – it takes ongoing dedication to the employee experience,” said Sarah Lewis-Kulin, vice president of global recognition at Great Place to Work. “It’s the only official recognition determined by employees’ real-time reports of their company culture. Earning this designation means that Alliant National is one of the best companies to work for in the country.”
“At Alliant National, we’re more than simply a team; we’re a passionate group of professionals committed to our communities and to each other,” said David Sinclair, president and CEO of Alliant National. “We work incredibly hard on our culture and strive for Alliant National to be a place where our employees enjoy coming to work each day. We want to empower them to deliver exceptional service to our agents.”
According to Great Place to Work research, job seekers are 4.5 times more likely to find a great boss at a Certified great workplace. Additionally, employees at Certified workplaces are 93 percent more likely to look forward to coming to work, and are twice as likely to be paid fairly, earn a fair share of the company’s profits, and have a fair chance at promotion.
Alliant National distinguishes itself from competitors by combining strong underwriting capability with independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets. The result is a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities, and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced, and continuously growing.
The Independent Underwriter for The Independent AgentSM – Alliant National believes in empowering people to thrive.
The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 500+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
ABOUT GREAT PLACE TO WORK CERTIFICATION™
Great Place to Work® Certification™ is the most definitive “employer-of-choice” recognition that companies aspire to achieve. It is the only recognition based entirely on what employees report about their workplace experience – specifically, how consistently they experience a high-trust workplace. Great Place to Work Certification is recognized worldwide by employees and employers alike and is the global benchmark for identifying and recognizing outstanding employee experience. Every year, more than 10,000 companies across 60 countries apply to get Great Place to Work-Certified.
ABOUT GREAT PLACES TO WORK®
Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. Since 1992, they have surveyed more than 100 million employees worldwide and used those deep insights to define what makes a great workplace: trust. Their employee survey platform empowers leaders with the feedback, real-time reporting, and insights they need to make data-driven people decisions. Everything they do is driven by the mission to build a better world by helping every organization become a great place to work For All™.
Alliant National team members have an important role: to support the independent agents that help make the American Dream possible. Service is central to the field and at the core of the company’s mission. It should be no surprise that service-oriented professionals gravitate toward Alliant National, individuals compelled to make a positive impact in both their professional and personal lives.
One such group is the Alliant National Claims Team, based out of Florida, which has a long history of philanthropic activity. “In 2015, Alliant National went through the process of identifying the company’s stakeholders. One identified stakeholder was our community,” says Noemi Dedouh, Vice President and Chief Claims Council for Alliant National. “That process inspired our team to begin charitable campaigns in 2016.”
In 2016 and 2017, the Claims Team participated in two Habitat for Humanity projects. They helped build homes from the ground up in collaboration with several other departments within Alliant National, and beautified several homes in a subdivision the following year.
In 2018, the Claims Team donated time to the Ronald McDonald House charity. The team took a day during the workweek to make a home-cooked meal for the families staying at the House. Their work was supported by Alliant National as well, as the company donated all the food to the event.
2019 found the team participating in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Claims selected this charity in honor of a former employee whose mother had passed away from cancer. During that volunteer project, the Claims Team raised over $5,700 in donations, and the company added $1,000 toward the initiative.
This year, the Alliant National Claims Team kicked their service work into overdrive, taking on two charitable drives during the holidays. The first drive was completed during Thanksgiving. Partnering with the West Orange Foundation, which supports the communities of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, the Alliant National Claims Team raised over $2,400 to help buy food for needy families. Once again, this fundraising initiative was supplemented by Alliant National’s $1,000 donation.
In December the Claims Team partnered with Toys for Tots for its second fundraising drive. Toys for Tots is a program with a mission that has been in operation for nearly 75 years. Between donations from staff, friends, family, outside counsel, and a company donation of $1,000, the drive raised a total over $4,500. The funds will provide toys to underprivileged children, a perfect cause for the holiday season.
“Alliant National and its employees donate time and money every chance they get to local charities,” says Dedouh. “We are so grateful that Alliant National supports our local communities and that we can bring greater awareness to these important charities.”
The philanthropy practiced by its staff and supported by its leadership is a natural extension of Alliant National’s efforts to empower the independent agent. The spirit of service flows through the organization, helping people build better lives and enabling the creation of stronger communities.
Interested in participating in Alliant National’s charitable activities throughout Florida? Contact Noemi Dedouh at email@example.com.