Stress-Responsive Policy Decisions Start With Awareness
By Kathy Cox
Chief of Staff, Director of Communications & Operations

Stress Responsive Greenleaf IntegrativeWith April being Stress Awareness month, we invite you to consider how your organization’s policies could actually be detrimental to employee wellbeing. Many organizations don’t think about the impacts of stress on their workforce in a systematic way when designing their organizational policies.

You may wonder, “how could they?” Policies grow over time, and often are reactive rather than proactive. But, it is indeed possible for policies to support a culture of wellbeing.

These are the key concepts Greenleaf uses to assess the current Stress Responsiveness of an organization and support the leadership in making more stress responsive policy decisions.

  1. Stress Awareness: The non-stigmatizing understanding by staff and managers that stress is biopsychosocial and has specific consequences that affect health, work performance, and interpersonal behavior. Furthermore, the knowledge that stress can be managed and moderated with positive self-care and benevolent stress-supportive management systems, and is exacerbated by unskillful management practices and dissonant organizational systems.
  2. Stress Responsiveness: Based on an objective understanding of stress (Stress Awareness), an organization’s adoption of practices that mitigate stress and care for staff; in other words, practices that eliminate avoidable adaptation challenges (stressors), minimize exposure to unavoidable adaptation challenges, mitigate current stress effects, care for distressed personnel, and reduce strain on the organization as a whole.
  3. Stress Mitigation: Interventions that either prevent or reduce the prevalence/severity of adaptation challenges. For example, management might mitigate stress by providing clarification on the relative urgency of tasks so that staff is not frantic with the perception that everything is important and must be completed immediately.
  4. Staff Care: Interventions that provide relief, support or treatment for personnel that has been negatively affected by adaptation challenges. For example, an organization with occupational exposures to trauma might provide a counseling center providing trauma-informed services.

Stress Awareness drives Stress Responsiveness.

Stress Responsiveness is made up of Stress Mitigation and Staff Care. Simply put, policies based on Stress Awareness are realistic, higher-yield and have a better “do no harm” profile. Stress aware policies lead to better institutional practices and culture. These, in turn, produce better outcomes for staff and, as a consequence, for the organization as a whole.



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