According to a recent study, approximately 40% of employees experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety on a daily basis in the workplace.
Employees who suffer from high stress levels often demonstrate lower engagement, less productivity, and higher absenteeism levels. Stress can also be harmful to your health. Increased levels of job stress, for instance, have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders. That’s because stress affects people’s intellectual, emotional, and interpersonal functioning. Even the United Nations’ International Labor Organization has defined occupational stress as a “global epidemic.”
The question is: why are so many employees stressed?
And more importantly, what can be done about it?
There are many contributing factors to stress, but four of the most popular ones are listed below, along with ways you can start combating each stressor to help your employees experience a better work/life balance which can lead to overall happiness.
Many employees are dedicated individuals who are willing to work hard and get their projects done with excellence. However, when they lack control over how and when the work is performed, it can lead to overall job dissatisfaction and a great deal of stress. How can managers solve this problem? Continue setting objectives for your team members, but let them be the ones to control the manner in which they achieve the desired results. In other words, give them more autonomy. It will allow your employees to feel like they have ownership over their tasks, which leads to better work output.
For many people, the economy feels strained, leaving them with no other choice than to live paycheck to paycheck. This unfortunately means that such people don’t have the means to create a financial cushion should they ever be laid off. In fact, many employees may stress over whether or not they’ll even receive their paychecks on time. One good way to remedy this is to educate your employees at least quarterly on the financial stability of the company. You may want to also consider providing financial stewardship resources to employees. This can take the form of lunch-and-learn programs where you bring in a financial expert, one-on-one coaching, or more robust workshops. When your employees feel financially secure, they’re able to show up to their work with 100% of their mind and heart invested because money becomes one less thing they have to worry over.
- Lack of opportunities for growth and advancement
Do you know which team members are interested in advancing within the company? Who is hoping to climb the ranks to perhaps one day lead a team of their own? Unfortunately, some employees feel as if they’ll always be at the lower rungs of the company hierarchy. Consider having one-on-one conversations with your employees and get to know what their goals are. Then connect them with the right resources (be it a mentor or further training) to help facilitate their forward-motion.
- A heavy workload
Finally, one of the biggest contributing factors to workplace stress is simply a heavy workload. Every day, employees are expected to meet growing demands of work output with nonstop excellence, and after a while, it can lead to total and complete burnout. This only results in exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm, and dwindling motivation. To combat this, many companies have established ‘employee assistance programs’ to assist their employees in dealing with stress and burnout and/or they regularly offer stress management training. While stress management is very much an ‘individual’ matter, an organisation at large still plays an important role and should diligently offer educational programs as well as organisational change where it regards workloads, community, values, and more.
Stress is a common factor in the workplace—but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things employers can start doing immediately to improve the quality of life that their employees experience. When that quality of life improves, so do other things: productivity, engagement, teamwork, and positivity…just to name a few. The end result is a stronger company and employees who are happier and healthier for the long run.