Does it seem there are more days then less when someone (maybe yourself) is avoiding activities to cope? Behaviors from being easily distracted and distressed have been researched since the 1960’s with intense focus on the central nervous system’s response to sensations. The results are a failure to modify sensory intake sufficiently and perceptual instability.
In today’s workplace health and wellbeing services are becoming more necessary. According to 2012 Aflac Workforces Report of 6,100 United States workers, those receiving health and wellbeing services reported a higher level of job satisfaction, feel happier with their employer, and are more satisfied with their overall benefits.
Millennials are redefining what health and wellbeing means with 55% agreeing a healthy mind leads to a healthy body.
Sensations are mind fuel.
Stimuli enters the body as information. Its then processed with results as behaviors.
Hypersensitivity, hyposensitivity or magnasensitivity is also known as ‘disturbances of sensory modulation/information processing’. An intervention model for sensory modulation was proposed in 1979 by occupational therapist Jean Ayers. Its a process that facilitates the improvement of knowledge, design, and creative application of sensory stimuli in one domain to help another domain.
Hyposensitivity may be mistaken and mis-diagnosed. It may be identified by the following symptoms:
- troubles shifting attention
Visual Scenario This employee was observed to have fidgety tendencies, often leaving their work station. Peers reported consistent complaints from this employee. Presenteeism was observed within this department. The assigned work space fit for the work role offered only bright lighting.
DESIGN AND MODULATION Reduced wattage with indirect lighting casted on the work station demonstrated to improve productivity in one timed task by 30 minutes daily. Five minutes of specific gross motor movement was incorporated into every hour at the workplace. Overall fidgetiness was observed and documented to reduce by 85% over 180 days.
Touch/Tactile Scenario This employee reported emotional disturbances to the style of interaction of one peer. It was observed this peer used touch tactics as a method of communicating greetings and acceptance (gestures included momentary hand placement on the shoulder and forearm). The employee was observed to be distressed as exhibited by increased heart rate, and disengaged from work tasks through ‘daydreaming’ and use of smartphone. Absences averaged two per month.
EDUCATION AND MODULATION A facilitated department workshop offered communication styles with emphasis on non-physical gestures, plus harassment case-studies in physical communication tactics. Workshop attendees reported feeling 70% less ’emotional disturbed’ upon physical touch tactics used with communication as measured over 180 days from the day of the workshop.
Meditation was incorporated two times within each workday for this employee. Personal record-keeping of times of daydreaming and use of smart-phone reduced by 82% over 180 days. Aside from one week vacation there were no additional absences within the same time frame.
Oral Scenario This employee was identified by the department to be a social disturbance to peers. Each luncheon or food-provided event offered opportunity to ridicule peer choices of meals, plus employer-provided foods. It was observed this employee had food sensitivities.
EDUCATION AND MODULATION A facilitated department workshop provided education on nutritional values, the digestion process, and common food sensitivity types and symptoms. Workshop attendees reported increased awareness of unique body needs and the value of food for performance. Social acceptance within the department of diet styles improved by 68% as measured over 180 days from the day of the workshop. This employer diversified food options at all events through assistance of this employee.
This employee incorporated deep pressure tactics three times each workday. Qualitative report results included a reduction in inhibitions of anger towards peers as identified by personal record-keeping.
Sound/Auditory Scenario This employee was observed to repeatedly make noises while working (i.e. pencil tapping, tongue and cheecking, foot tapping). Frequent disengaged behaviors (walk the office, talk with peers, smart-phone activity) was also observed. The work space was open floor with auditory sounds including phone calls, conversations, and general work activities.
DESIGN AND MODULATION The employee was fitted with noise-reducing headphones and alternative quiet workspaces within natural environments (outdoor green space). Daily movement (i.e. walk throughout the workplace, gross motor tactics, vigorous exercise) was incorporated on an average of ten minutes every hour. Productivity increased by 40% as evidence by task record-keeping over 180 days.
Movement/ Vestibular Scenario This employee reported frequent nausea and headaches in the morning hours of work. They were identified to have sensitive to movement following a sensory assessment. Potential triggers were daily commute, rolling chairs, and elevators. At this time they reported an average of three absences a month, including half days. Medical expenses and over-the counter medications tallied an average of $1,100 the prior tax year to address the symptoms.
DESIGN AND MODULATION Following daily diet remedies and frequency of scent applications (i.e. teas, plants, essential oils) in various environments – ginger, peppermint, cloves, and licorice – nausea seized and frequency of headaches reduced to an average of once a week. Deep pressure activities were incorporated three times throughout each day. Results included no unscheduled absences over 180 days, no medical visits, and less than $75 spent on over-the-counter drugs.
Smell/Olfactory Scenario This employee complained of job dissatisfaction and had a history of job hopping within manufacturing industries as a line worker. It was observed and identified as an issue of manufacturing plant odors within the work environment due to machinery oils and chemicals.
DESIGN AND MODULATION Following a skill assessment the employer identified an alternative role within an administrative department outside of the manufacturing plant environment. The employee worksite was set up away from alternative odors (kitchen, copying machine, perfumes, garbage) with immediate access to the outdoors. Scheduled breaks were set within natural green environments for visual stimulation of outdoor activity (birds, living water, trees, flowers).
Overall job satisfaction increased as exhibited by increased workplace engagement, self-intiatied horticulture initiatives and responsibilities within the workplace. Quantitative and qualitative reporting over 180 days improved by 65% from initial day of service.
Becoming easily distracted and distressed is solvable through interweaving health and design matters.
Health and wellbeing services that include skilled observation of latent needs facilitates the improvement of knowledge, design, and creative application. Sensory stimuli in one domain helped another domain in these scenarios. The results reduced absenteeism, presenteeism, and medical costs. It improved retention, job satisfaction, creativity, and united the workplace culture.