Stress in the Workplace

6 min. read

Stress can seriously impact an employee, as well as an employer, and workplace culture as a whole

A workplace isn’t just a place to work, it's more than the sum of its parts. It becomes an entity of its own. Every workplace, no matter what industry or area of specialty, can be judged on 5 main factors. They are comfort, community, culture, communication, and career.

In the first category, one would find all the "perks" that help strike a balance between work life and personal life, and all the things that make working at a company easier or more comfortable. Comfort for employees is very, very important. It dictates how the people who work there feel. It is a level of safety and security as well as feeling cared for. That they matter and their input is valuable. It is a barometer of how they get on, both at work, and in their lives overall. Without human beings you don’t have a workplace, you have a sterile, robotic environment that has no level of comfort.

The folks who work in an organization are the company. They make up the culture of the place and they are the ones who get things done. If your workers don’t feel safe and secure and don’t have a level of comfort in their lives they don’t perform as well. Stress is a huge factor in the workplace. If getting things done is stressful it can lead to several issues. It can cost a company a lot of money. The American Institute of Stress says that American organizations lose up to $300 billion every year due to stress in the workplace.

Stress can seriously impact an employee as well as an employer. 83 percent of workers in the United States suffer from work-related stress. Wrike found that stress in the workplace has negative effects on 54 percent of workers when it comes to their home lives as well. If you are stressed at work and that spills over into your home life you never have any comfort at all. It's just a constant barrage of worry and anxiety which never lets up. This can cause health issues over time and this has an economic impact.

Data from Everyday Health’s United States of Stress research uncovered alarming statistics. More than 30 percent of Americans went to see a doctor for problems related to stress over the past 12 months. The financial effect of stress is a deep concern. It causes extensive costs when it comes to maintaining your health. Center for Workplace Mental Health revealed that work-related stress costs American workers $190 billion in healthcare annually. Even worse is the fact that some folks don’t survive the stress of a hectic workplace. Work-related stress can be linked to 120,000 deaths every single year.

Heavy workloads paired with technology enabling you to be available 24/7 leads to low levels of comfort. If you are expected to answer emails in the early hours of the morning or late at night it disrupts your sleep patterns and has a shake-up effect on your day-to-day life.

It is interesting to note that less than half of US workers believe their employers care about their work-life balance.

Communication is a key to lowering stress and improving the levels of comfort in the workplace. Great communication leads to solving problems and teamwork. Bad communication leads to mistakes, infighting, and lack of direction, which in turn leads to lowered productivity. Research by Dynamic Signal showed that in 2019, 80 percent of American workers were stressed due to ineffective communication in their place of work. That is up 30 percent from the previous year so the trend suggests that it's getting worse.

Coronavirus caused massive upheavals and the fact that people were working remotely arguably contributed to this increase. Not being able to pop your head into an office or schedule a face-to-face meeting to get clarity pushes communication into a tricky position. It is never easy to get clear and concise communication when you are struggling to connect with another person. Comfort is then affected as well because without understanding between departments or workers things get more stressful and this leads to a breakdown of several things in the organization.

Research backs this up. A State of Employee Communication and Engagement study found 63 percent of workers in the US are ready to quit their jobs due to stress in the workplace. If you are ready to quit you most certainly do not feel the level of comfort required to keep you and that means it most certainly does not fit the definition of a great place to work.

If you don’t care about your employees your workplace culture will suffer, they will have low morale and they won’t want to stay with you for the long haul. Even more importantly, they won’t work to their maximum effectiveness which affects productivity and profits. Gallup found that over half of workers who are stressed say they are “checked out” when they are at work. They are not happy about the idea of being there in the first place, and so they are not living in the present moment, but rather stuck in an emotional rut that clouds their day.

Communication is one way to help your employees and your team members live healthier more fulfilled lives. You have to make it safe for them to approach you and speak about any stressful situations. Workers don’t feel safe reporting stress to their superiors. The reason they don’t feel comfortable is that they think it will harm how they are perceived and that they will be thought of as “not a team player” or unwilling to perform certain tasks. Even worse is 31 percent don’t report stress for fear of appearing weak.

Stress has a big impact on employees. If you can’t lessen the stress load or help them get through it, your company will suffer for it. You will lose workers to other jobs, or they won’t make it one way or another. The cost of absenteeism and healthcare adds up exponentially. To have smooth sailing you have to have an excellent captain who understands what the crew needs. Without it, there is no comfortable end to the story.