Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

High Anxiety

Wayne A. Hochwarter knows all about stress -- and not just his own. The Florida State University business professor has been asking a lot of questions about other people's stress, and this is what he has learned: Floridians are a stressed out bunch.

One particular source of stress this time of year is the threat of hurricanes. But Hochwarter found that businesses aren't powerless in helping their employees cope.

In interviews with 600 employees from various companies, Hochwarter found that a firm's hurricane-preparedness plan -- or lack of a plan -- affects employee stress levels and morale. A little more than half of those interviewed thought their company was prepared, which garnered these positive effects among employees:

  • Significantly higher levels of job satisfaction
  • Greater willingness to do things beyond what is expected by management
  • Perceptions of greater control
  • More enthusiasm and a greater willingness to work harder than expected
  • More compassion for others
  • Greater feelings of support from the company
  • Lower levels of depressed mood at work
    (i.e., sluggishness, sadness)

Businesses can also help decrease stress by implementing or expanding wellness programs, Hochwarter says. "Most companies aren't going to do much unless it reflects on the bottom line, but companies will find that for every dollar they kick into wellness programs, they'll get seven back in less absenteeism, turnover and mistakes."

Next page: Lessen your anxiety by finding inner peace.

Finding Inner Peace

Teresa Greenlees tries to squeeze in time for yoga every workday. [Photo: Michael Heape]

It's only five minutes, but it's a crucial five minutes for Teresa Greenlees. She tries to fit it in every workday, at some point before rushing off to the office. It's her yoga time -- and she says all the stretching and deep breathing relaxes her and reduces the stress she'll feel the rest of the day.

"For me, it makes an incredible difference," says the 30-year-old marketing manager at Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg. "It gives me an opportunity to focus my thoughts and draw in positive energy. We get into this high-stress environment where we're moving so quickly, and we forget to use all of our lungs. Yoga really forces you to concentrate on your breathing. It's very meditative."