By Dr. Christopher Butts, Vice President, K. Parks Consulting, Inc.

At K. Parks Consulting, Inc. we know the ability of workforces to produce their best work is in large part dependent on their level of health. Our efforts seek to yield a culture of diversity that fosters the inclusion of every member. Without this business imperative strategy, many members of the workforce experience high levels of stress and tension, which may be reflected in a decline in their work productivity as well as increased healthcare costs to the organization.

Higher levels of workplace stress have been correlated to increases in coronary heart disease and difficulty in managing diabetes; these are both risk factors which are more prevalent in minorities, especially African Americans. In order to further minority health efforts, we utilize the business case for diversity and identify strengthening affinity groups to enhance physical and mental health efforts.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 39 percent of adults surveyed reported their stress levels increasing and more than half of all surveyed reported personal health problems as a source of stress. We are said to spend more hours awake at work than at home, so it is important to our health that we work in a stress-free or as stress-free as possible of an environment.

Minority health is important to everyone as the nation continues to see an increase in the growth of minority groups. Furthermore, minorities make up nearly one-third of the labor force. It is important to all industries to continue to increase their diversity efforts, as the environment they foster impacts the health of their workforce and their ability to produce at their highest level.

In a recent meeting with a client we were asked why is it important for their company to embrace diversity. We compared the regional demographics with the number of minority individuals who were qualified for current vacant positions at the company, and found a disparity in the number of qualified minorities who applied for the positions. We further explored the absenteeism of those currently employed and found the highest levels were those from a minority group. Lastly, we identified the cost associated with recruiting and training new employees over the past five years versus recommended continuing education efforts to retain quality employees.

At the end of the meeting we had the backing of the executive team to move forward with continued efforts to increase their diversity and inclusion efforts in order to foster an environment that would reduce absenteeism, turnover, and increase the diversity of their recruitment pool. Health efforts are not just the benefits we receive, but more importantly the environment fostered to allow us to work at our highest potential. Stress doesn’t leave when you walk out of the door, it follows you home.