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Do Employers Need to Address Workplace Stress?

31st May 2019
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Did you know that a little stress at work can help improve productivity? In fact, according to the results of a new study published in The Daily Mail, mild and short-lived stress helps boost our behavioral and metal performance. But the good news ends there. 

The study also warned that prolonged stress could be harmful to our body and mind. In the same vein, a report by The American Institute of Stress showed that65% of employees admitted they have difficulty dealing with workplace stress, while over 10% said they experience severe side effects of work-related stress. 

Some companies in the US organize employer wellbeing program to help their employees deal with workplace stress. But do employers really need to address workplace place? What are the consequences of not addressing stress at work? Let’s find out. 

What is Stress and How it Affects Employees
Stress is the body’s physiological reaction to environmental stressors.  This reaction, termed the ‘fight or flight’ response, is an ancient survival technique for humans, says an expert at IPG Counseling

Different people respond to stress in different ways. People with high stress tolerance levels can actually perform better in high-stress situations, but most people succumb to stress more easily. For employees that fall in the second group, work-related stress can trigger serious health issues, causing absenteeism and turnover – which according to the latest statistics from the American Institute of Stress, causes annual productivity loss worth $300 billion to the American employers.
 
When it comes to the prevalence of workplace stress among American employees, a recent study by Korn Ferry conducted among 2000 employees shows that 16% of employees quit jobs, 76% experience personal relationship problems and 66% lose sleep due to work-related stress.
  
It suffices to say that workplace stress is a serious problem that needs serious attention from the employers, if only to improve their productivity at work. But there are many other reasons why employers should consider addressing this issue. 

Top reasons employers should address workplace stress 
Long work hours and a high stress work environment often cause serious illness to the workers. As a result, they could take days or months off from work, which in the end costs employers hundreds and thousands of dollars in lost productivity. 

On top of that, employers often need to pay more onemployee medical expenses. According to an article published in Forbes, illness due to workplace stress causes American employers an additional $46 billion per year on employee healthcare costs.

While most employers are concerned about absenteeism, they often overlook another major factor contributing to their productivity loss. Some employees would come to work despite being sick or depressed, but they’d often fail to perform on the job at an optimal level. This is commonly known “presenteeism,” and causes productivity loss worth over $150 billion annually to American employers, according to a survey by Harvard Business Review. Losses due to stress-related presenteeism are not easily quantifiable, but most studies estimate that presenteeism costs employers more than absenteeism does. 

Looking at the above facts and figures, it is easy to understand why employers should address the problem of workplace stress in the first place, rather than letting the problem perpetuate until it causes them thousands of dollars on damage repair. 

There are many ways to fix the problem of workplace stress from its root. For instance, employers can organize training programs on team building, crisis management and change management. They can also seek professional help from acclaimed counseling service providers or offeran Employee Assistance Program. While it takes time, effort and money to overcome stress at workplace, employers need to understand that not taking the necessary steps or delaying the process further could cost them more in the long run.

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