According to the American Institute of Stress, workplace stress costs US businesses $300 billion per year in absenteeism, presenteeism (when employees are at work but not working), diminished productivity, employee turnover, and insurance. That's an awful lot!
What is Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress is the response of the body to stressful work conditions that can interfere with concentration and productivity. It is a serious issue in the American workforce, with 83% of US workers reporting that they have experienced it in some capacity. It’s also much more common than many people realize.
Stress can take many forms at work, but there are several key factors that contribute to its development. These include poor lighting, long hours, lack of control over your job, heavy workloads, and unclear performance expectations.
Stress is normal, and what is important is how you deal with it.
When stress goes unmanageable, it can wear you down. You may find it difficult to go about your usual daily routine, your productivity may suffer, your relationships may suffer, you may experience sleep problems, and you might be in a bad mood most of the time.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), excessive workplace stress is responsible for 120,000 deaths and nearly $190 billion in health care costs each year. This accounts for 5% to 8% of national health care spending.
Chronic stress can also lead to depression.
The High Cost of Unmanaged Stress
The concerning fact is half of the employees with depression go undiagnosed and untreated.
And even when diagnosed, not all of them receive treatment. Per CDC, only 57% of employees with moderate depression and 40% of those with severe depression obtain treatment to control depression symptoms.
Despite the fact that many employees report depression affects their work performance, only a few tell their employers about it. They are unlikely to speak up and ask for help because there is still a stigma around it. They may be concerned that asking for help will make them appear incapable of completing their work and that they may be fired as a result.
Employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% decline in productivity, according to data provided by the American Psychiatric Association, resulting in a $210.5 billion loss to the US economy in absenteeism, reduced productivity, and medical costs per year.
What Can the Employers Do?
Managing stress in the workplace is not an easy task. Stress has become an epidemic with organizations struggling to develop policies and programs to manage it effectively for their employees.
But employers can do a few things to manage their employees’ stress. They can help their employees find ways to reduce their workload and decrease any anxiety they might be experiencing in relation to stressful situations. Also, they should ensure that their employees are well-rested and have appropriate breaks during the day.
If anyone seems stressed or overwhelmed with work, employers should take steps immediately to remedy the situation before it becomes worse.
Stress is a fact of life, but it can be devastating for employers, employees, and customers when it becomes unmanageable. It can lead to more sick days, lower productivity, and higher turnover rates. The cost of workplace stress can be high on all sides.