Wellness Programming that Targets Executive Stress and Burnout

By Shelly Beal

4 min read
“A company is a living breathing being, with the executives acting as the vital organs that keep it going.” –Dr. Walter Gaman, Corporate Wellness Magazine 

Employees at an executive level often experience higher levels of stress along with demanding schedules. This coupled with poor lifestyle behaviors is going to eventually lead to lower job satisfaction and decreased productivity. The executive lifestyle can lead to less sleep, more work hours, frequent travel, and a sedentary lifestyle. These factors put executives at a greater risk for sleep deprivation, heart disease, depression, stroke, diabetes and more.

Take a look at how stress and lifestyle may be effecting business leaders may be:

  • Approximately one-third of leaders and managers are overwhelmed by the level of stress they experience at work.
  • A similar percentage said they struggle to maintain work-life balance.
  • Just half of leaders and managers feel they have enough time to do a quality job and only 48% feel they can detach from work.
  • 73% of CEOs lead a sedentary lifestyle and more than 40% are obese.

Well-Designed Programming is Key to Promoting Healthy Lifestyle and Habits

A well-designed wellness program for business leaders is more of a necessity than a luxury. Executives benefit most from an individualized and tailored program that creates greater balance. There needs to be a harmonious focus on physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and occupational health for leaders to perform their best. When leaders begin to strike a greater balance in overall well-being, it allows them to stay ahead of stress and avoid burnout. Business leaders should be thriving through their success, not surviving it.

Core Program Components that Target Employee Stress and Burnout

A well-rounded wellness program that is completely tailored and customized to fit the individual’s needs: Habit change is unique to each individual. No one is exactly the same on the spectrum of well-being. An experienced health coach will help a client focus on the areas that they are ready to change and will benefit from most. Good coaching helps clients build resilience and improve health at the same time.

Ongoing, one-on-one health coaching as the foundation for lasting results: Behavior change is a process that can build confidence and lasting personal development. It has to be designed to fit that person’s needs with appropriate timing. It’s this ongoing partnership in health that will provide this and prevent burnout in the long term.

Executive Client Example:
Linda came to us with a recent pre-diabetes diagnosis. She was forty pounds overweight and had elevated blood pressure. Our health coach began by talking to her about her health risks and lifestyle habits. When the coach began to really drill down, the greatest concern identified was Linda’s poor sleep habits. A long time sufferer of insomnia and insufficient sleep was the real root of Linda’s health issues. Telling Linda to do more cardio and lower her caloric intake was not going to have great effect as long as she was lacking sleep. Addressing her sleep issues and inability to manage stress needed to be a priority. The coach focused first on getting Linda the right medical support and giving her the correct tools to begin improving her sleep habits. Other health habits were gradually brought into focus.

Within three months, Linda was sleeping an additional two hours a night, her blood pressure was  back to a normal range and she lost ten pounds. Linda lowered her blood sugar slightly in this time but is still considered pre-diabetic. As her sleep cycle continues to improve, her cravings for sugary and starchy carbohydrates are improving. A well-trained coach will recognize that this would now be a more appropriate time to address her eating habits. 

Ongoing education that includes practical learning on a variety of stress management skills:  There are many avenues to managing stress. What works for one executive may not work for another. Recognizing daily behaviors and habits that lead to higher risk of burnout is an important first step. Really getting to know that person is the only way to achieve this. Our extensive health and well-being assessment, for example, helps our coach identify those red flags. Introducing and teaching a variety of stress management techniques over time prepares leaders to handle high-pressure times.

Seeing the personal and professional aspect as one in the same:  Leaders cannot always check everything at the office door. If a person is neglecting their health or not happy in their personal life, they will eventually be affected professionally. Executive coaching and wellness programming is about helping leaders to strike a more ‘ideal’ balance. It will not be a perfect balance all the time, but completely ignoring this is detrimental to professional success. Becoming successful is one thing, but handling success is another. In order to sustain the pressure that comes with leadership and decision making, you must keep a focus on physical and mental health. Spending time with a coach each week can open up more energy and patience for the daily demand of a leader’s role.

Building successful business and great teams starts at the top. When business leaders and managers take an active role in their own health and wellness, employees and team members are more likely to do the same. Take the time to take care of yourself and your leaders so this trickle-down effect will begin to enhance and define the culture of the company.

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