Stress in the workplace keeps rising. Yep, you read that right. Even after so many years of de-formalizing the workplace and hiring design gurus to create workspaces that are brighter and less severe.
A survey conducted by the Korn Ferry Institute in November 2018 revealed that 2/3rds of respondents said that stress at the workplace is higher than it was 5 years ago. A poll conducted by CareerCast saw almost 4 in 5 respondents select a ‘stress score’ of 7 or higher when asked about their job. And stress at work has real consequences
For one, stress kills creativity. Literally, if Dr. Wendy Suzuki, NYU Neuroscientist, professor, and author of Healthy Brain Happy Life, is to be believed.
According to Dr Suzuki, stress slowly destroys an area of the brain called the hippocampus which has recently been linked with creativity.
Two, stress can lead to all kinds of unfortunate consequences – a generally unhappy life, broken marriages and relationships, health problems…and in at least one case even death (the 2013 death of Moritz Erhardt, an intern at Merril Lynch was partly due to stress at work).
Now that you know workplace stress is rising which may have serious consequences, what can you do about it?
Many workplaces try out the ‘open workplace’ concept, which refers to a workplace without too many cubicles or private offices. Some supplement that with bright colors, origami, innovative meeting rooms (such as a disused VW bus) and so on.
Now, this might seem to be the perfect solution…except there’s strong evidence it isn’t.
There are a number of experts who opine that an open workplace may actually be making the workplace toxic.
Secondly, all an open workplace, bright colors and all the rest of that does is promote genteel conversation and harmony, at best. While that may be great for barbecue parties, it’s not what’s suitable for a business. As it turns out, just like stress can kill creativity, too much harmony can also kill creativity. I didn’t make that up. That’s what the Harvard Business Review said.
The best way to combat toxic stress while maintaining creativity would be by throwing people into situations where there is wholesome, non-toxic stress to innovate and conflict is natural but teamwork is essential.
Team building exercises at escape rooms fit the bill rather neatly. In case you don’t know, an escape room is a game that involves the players getting locked in a room and they have to find their way out by playing games which require innovative thinking and a range of skills.
First of all, since the escape games are a simulation of a dramatic situation (stave off an epidemic, defuse a time bomb and so on), they clearly offer an enjoyable experience and generate what may be called eustress, a form of stress that’s beneficial for people.
This can easily promote creativity to resolve the dramatic situation and accomplish the escape mission…as opposed to workplace stress that destroys creativity.
Secondly, many escape rooms design their games carefully to hone qualities like respect for the rules, mutual respect among players and critical insight into issues. These are qualities that are greatly beneficial for workplaces.
And, once again, it’s not just me who thinks this way. A whole host of businesses choose to hire escape rooms to organize team building programs and office day outs.
So, what do you think? Do escape rooms provide the solution to workplace stress? Can they kill toxic stress while imbibing qualities that keep workers productive?
Be sure to let us know!