A study conducted by TermLife2Go found that South Carolina's number one mental health concern is stress at work.
The study looked at the most googled health concerns across the nation and found that internet addiction, major depressive disorder and memory loss were the top three concerns for the nation as a whole compared to each state’s concern.
• South Carolina, Arizona and Maryland residents googled “stress at work,” while Georgians and Pennsylvanians searched for info about “stress headaches.”
• Utah’s most googled concern was postpartum depression. That’s not surprising, considering the CDC routinely places Utah in the top 10 states for the highest birth rates.
• Alcoholism is the top mental health concern for internet searchers in Minnesota, New Mexico and Wyoming.
South Carolinians – and Americans in general – are serious about work. A Gallup report from 2014 estimated the average full-time worker in the United States works 47 hours a week, one of the highest figures in the world, and significantly higher than rates in Western Europe.
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And in a poorer state such as South Carolina, too many people are working more than one job, meaning even more hours – and stress.
Against that backdrop, the people and businesses of South Carolina should find insightful the results of a pilot program conducted by none other than giant Microsoft. The program was put in place in Japan, which has a culture of overwork. Per a CNN report, “The problem is so severe, the country has even coined a term for it: Karoshi means death by overwork from stress-induced illnesses or severe depression.”
Microsoft introduced the "Work Life Choice Challenge," which shut down its offices every Friday in August and gave all employees an extra day off each week.
The results, according to Microsoft, were dramatic cuts in time spent at work while productivity — measured by sales per employee — went up by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year.
In addition to reducing working hours, managers urged staff to cut down on the time they spent in meetings and responding to emails, with meetings cut to a maximum of 30 minutes. Employees were also encouraged to cut down on meetings altogether by using an online Microsoft messaging app.
More than 90% of Microsoft's 2,280 employees in Japan said they were impacted by the new measures – presumably positively if productivity is the measure.
With the government of Japan looking for solutions to stress in its culture of overwork, including encouraging workers to leave early from work on the last Friday of every month, the Microsoft program is promising as a model. Perhaps even in South Carolina.