Stress is one of those words that many like to use as a catch all for anything that can’t fit into a symptom box. But the sad fact is that stress is real, and it affects almost everyone at some point during their personal and working lives.
For employers, stress can hit your bottom line. New research from Towers Watson*, a worldwide professional services firm, found that employees who suffered from high stress levels were found to be less productive and engaged on the job, have higher absentee levels and overall lower productivity levels.
Some highlights of the study include:
- 1/3 of survey respondents were bothered by an excess of work related stress leading to disengagement and absenteeism
- Over 1⁄2 the survey respondents named inadequate staffing as the biggest cause of on the job stress; only 15% of business owners considered this to be a major issue
- 6 of 10 employees who claimed to be feeling highly stressed reported feeling disengaged; compared to 1 in 10 employees who were experiencing low stress levels and said they were feeling disengaged
- Highly stressed employees took an average of 4.6 sick days compared with 2.6 days for low stressed employees
- “Presenteeism”, the act of attending work when feeling unwell and unproductive, was 50% higher for stressed employees with an average of 16 days per year versus 10 days for low stressed employees
- The study demonstrates a clear link between high stress levels and reduced productivity; for business owners this is costly
There are things that employers can do; some suggestions include:
- Understanding the causes of stress in their organizations. This can be ascertained through employee surveys, exit interviews and promoting a culture that encourages an active and ongoing dialogue between employees and management;
- Ensuring that good communication and feedback structures are in place throughout the organization, and offering Employee Assistance Programs where employees can take advantage of benefits to help them manage their stress.
- Stress is a reality, both personally and professionally. The key for business owners is to recognize the symptoms early and have a mechanism in place to manage and ultimately eliminate on the job stress triggers.