No question, modern life is stressful. In addition to work, most of us live in a pressure cooker made up of worries about finances; personal health; family responsibilities, like caring for children or aging parents; and new technologies, like smart phones and social media. The daily demands on us are unrelenting.
What do those situations have to do with the workplace? A lot. Surveys find that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job. Almost half need help learning to deal with stress – or want their coworkers to get help. A NIOSH report revealed that work is the No. 1 stressor for 25 percent of workers.
Under pressure: the downside of workplace stress.
Ongoing stress can cause chronic health problems as well as a negative work environment.
Highly stressed employees put your business at risk in several ways:
- Ongoing high stress levels are associated with greater risk of heart attacks and stroke. •Stress interferes with sleep, which can make on-the-job accidents more likely.
- People under stress are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, from overeating to alcohol consumption to drug abuse. •Valuable, trained workers are more likely to seek a new job.
- In extreme cases, stress can magnify undesirable workplace interactions such as bullying or violence.
Red flags! Signs and symptoms of workplace stress You might not know if your employees are stressed. In fact, just 40 percent of employees suffering from stress at work talk to their employer about it.
Still, managers can watch for symptoms of stress on the job. Signs of a stressful workplace include:
- Increased absenteeism
- Increased interpersonal problems
- Higher incidence of accidents and injuries
- More overtime and skipped breaks, and people not taking vacations •Missed deadlines or poorly completed jobs
- More customer complaints or dissatisfaction
- Difficulty attracting new employees
Whatever you do, don’t ignore stress on the job. Even acknowledging that stress exists in the workplace can bring relief to your workforce – and help your organization become happier and more productive.
There are ways to reduce workplace stress. Find out how in June's issue of Focus.