Employee Stress – Costs, Causes and Solutions

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Employee Stress – Costs, Causes and Solutions

Do members of your staff call in, miss deadlines or seem to struggle to keep up with their workload? The struggle could be tied to their emotional wellbeing. There’s a very good chance some of your employees are stressed, and it’s costing you money.

A Colonial Life Study surveyed 1,506 full-time employees and found their stress level was costing their company billions every week. Yes, you read that right. Every week.

The High Cost of Employee Stress

The U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics says the United States has around 128.5 million adults working full-time at an average of $21/hour. With that many employees, minutes and hours of reduced productivity add up quickly. Here are a few highlights from the study.

  • Over 70 percent of employees report they spend time on the clock worrying.
  • Of those, 28 percent spend less than an hour of paid time worrying about stressors.
  • Half of them – a full 50 percent spend between one and five paid hours thinking about stressors.
  • 16 percent spend between five and 10 hours.
  • Six percent spend more than 10 hours at work stressed.

When they’re stressed, 41 percent say they’re less productive. Thirty-three percent are less engaged. Fourteen percent of workers say they’re absent more frequently and 15 percent say stress makes them start looking for a new job. When employees experience stress, they’re more likely to have health problems, depression, trouble concentrating and decreased motivation.

Employee Stress Causes

You can’t do much about stress from personal relationships or other outside factors, but it’s possible to reduce workplace stressors. Employees feel stressed by situations that are unpredictable, uncontrollable or unfamiliar. They also report stress when performance expectations are ambiguous or feel unattainable. Key factors include:

  • The need for long hours or work overload
  • Personal life struggles caused by work overload
  • Feeling excluded from decision-making processes
  • Struggles with administrators stemming from unclear expectations, different communication styles or poor management
  • Physical discomfort caused by the workplace environment

What Employers Can Do

The first step is becoming aware of problems and making emotional health a priority. Look for signs of employee stress like frequent sick days, moodiness or declining productivity. Then, ask employees for feedback.

Acknowledge the reality of stress and its impact on daily living. Then, seek out ways to relieve some of the pressure.

For employees that are stressed over earnings, employers might provide help understand benefits or resources for financial planning. If work causes physical discomfort, invest in improving office ergonomics. Help employees better handle stress with contests around healthy habits or opportunities for daily physical activity.

For most employees, just feeling supported by their companies will be a huge stress relief. When they have resources and support, they are better equipped to deal with stress to stay productive and engaged.

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