Updated: Oct 11
Workplace stress is a significant problem in corporate America. Not only does stress affect the individual, but it also affects job performance. Stress management in the workplace is one of the single most effective contributors to a company’s profitability.
A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the United States reached some profound conclusions about workplace stress:
* 25 percent of American workers view their jobs as the most stressful aspect of their lives.
* 40 percent of U.S. workers consider their jobs to be extremely stressful.
* 26 percent of American workers reported that they are often or very often burned out or stressed by their work.
These statistics have a profound impact on the effectiveness of a business. One quarter or more employees at a given business are likely feeling significantly stressed about their jobs.
Today’s companies are discovering what numerous studies have indicated.
* Employers/managers are in the best position to recognize the symptoms of employee stress.
* Employers who intervene on behalf of employees and offer stress management programs tend to have a healthier bottom line.
* Employees who are stressed out are more likely to perform poorly at work and change jobs frequently.
* All of these result in a decrease in profitability for the company.
Employers and managers can learn to recognize the symptoms of workplace stress. They include, but are not limited to:
* Declining performance.
Employees who used to perform well but seem to have become sluggish may be suffering from workplace stress. Missed deadlines, chronic lateness, sloppy work and frequent mistakes are poor-performance indicators and may be stress-related. Lack of preparation for presentations or meetings or skipping important meetings may also be a sign that workplace stress is increasing.
* Inter-employee conflict.
Naturally there will be some conflict between employees and between employee and management from time to time. However, if incidents of conflict seem to be increasing, or if conflict between two parties has escalated, this may be a sign of workplace stress.
* Work absences.
If an employee appears to be taking more than his or her usual share of sick days, the root of the problem may be stress. Stress can manifest itself with both mental/emotional symptoms and physical symptoms. Frequent headaches, stomach aches/nausea and even muscle and joint pain can be stress-related.
* Chronic tiredness.
An employee who appears to be tired constantly may be suffering from workplace stress. Excessive yawning, red or puffy eyes and the need for regular daytime catnaps are telltale sign of lack of sleep.
Stress can interfere with normal sleep patterns. It may cause some people to sleep excessively, which actually increases overall fatigue. In others, it may result in insomnia (the inability to fall asleep at night). It may also cause sleep disruptions. (The person may fall asleep but wakes frequently throughout the night.) All of these lead to extreme fatigue during the workday.
It’s important to note that everyone experiences these symptoms sometimes. They are not always cause for concern. However, employers who see a consistent pattern in an employee should be concerned. They should also take notice if an employee is experiencing multiple symptoms. If so, it’s time to consider offering stress management options to the employee.
Even companies that don’t have in-house stress management programs can still provide solutions. Spa gift cards/memberships, counseling referrals and gym memberships are just a few ideas. In comparison to the cost of lost productivity and employee turnover, these ideas are inexpensive and easy to implement. They may even be a company’s saving grace.