Episode 32: With Chris Wilson on stress and the risk implications on the business and its people

Episode 32 Chris Wilson

As the title suggests, this podcast is all about unearthing a new perspective on risk.

My guests are experts in their fields where they impact risk either directly or indirectly. My interviews aim to lift the lid on risk and rip it apart to give you a whole new perspective on it.

My name’s Lisa Sisson and I am founder of risk consultancy, Unearth. I’m also becoming known somewhat as a “Risk Rebel”.

At Unearth we believe that risk starts and ends with people. Equally, we believe that opportunity starts and ends with people. So if you’re not looking at risk with, through and by your people, then you are not only leaving your organisation exposed to risk, you are also not opening up the opportunities that a people-centred risk strategy will deliver.

Yes, we are back with our first episode for 2023. We are excited to have Chris Wilson, a Stress Scientist, join us again for an important discussion on stress, and the risk implications on the business and its people. We last spoke with Chris back in August 2021 in episode 6, on the science and fluidity behind stress. Chris comes from a background in consulting and mentoring elite groups such as the military, elite sports, performing arts and corporate athletes. He combines systems and data to make informed decisions that catapult a team’s engagement, productivity, and outcomes. Chris spent the early part of his career working with and developing future leaders, he identified that a necessary part of the success plan is to improve the individual’s performance capacity. This is achieved by adapting capacity in three key areas: physical, mental, and emotional capacity, to enable them to perform their role. Chris helps to develop these three key components to reduce the risk of burnout. Disengagement is one of the largest and most understated risks businesses face today and has been on an upward trend over the past years. So clearly what we have been doing isn’t working the way we had hoped. And we know that disengagement doesn’t occur as a result of just one thing, so this episode we speak with Chris on what is happening in the workplace in relation to how people are managing stress at the moment. The discussion takes a few turns and here are some of the points discussed:
  • Data and trends – people pushing to the detriment of own health, plus the implications on the physiology of the body.
  • Positive vs negative (harmful) stress – stress is fluid, and we need to understand the accumulation of stress and the risk to individuals and the business.
  • People have different predispositions – why ‘one brush’ approach isn’t suitable.
  • Some people enjoy the company, its people, but can’t keep working in what feels like a pressure cooker, it is not sustainable.
  • The cost of disengagement to the business.
  • People are like dry sponges, absorbing stress from areas we engage, like personal, work, relationships, finances, and media ‘doom and gloom’… there is only so much capacity for stress before it affects us and our health.
  • Those struggling can unintentionally load up others in the business trying to carry the workload.
  • Are businesses unintentionally setting their people up for failure instead of success?
  • There is no one answer (no blue or red pill), but there are things we can do.
Many executives’ associate disengagement with productivity and don’t consider the risk exposure. When employees are disengaged, they are at best satisfied with the bare minimum level of productivity and focus, and we know that lack of attention leads to errors and ‘unintentional’ insider threats. At the end of the day, it is your people who execute the organisation’s strategy and are responsible for the day-to-day operations and the management of risks. It is only by working with and through your people, being truly engaged with them that the business can achieve goals and performance, solve your organisational risk exposure, and drive transformational change.

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