The job-stress connection isn’t new. It’s been around as long as the concept of employment.
So if it’s always been there, why should businesses worry about it? And why now?
There’s a simple answer to these questions: Employee stress costs every company money. Sometimes a lot of money. And it’s a bigger problem now than ever before.
Employee stress costs $300 billion a year
According to the latest stats, stress is one of the biggest culprits in the country behind lost productivity. The American Psychological Association puts the total figure for lost revenue due to employee stress at $300 billion annually, which includes absenteeism, lost productivity, and employee turnover.
Like cold weather, rain, and traffic, some amount of employee stress is simply a fact of life. It’s not a problem any business, or any person, can eliminate completely because it’s a basic physiological phenomenon – a response we’re all wired to produce when faced with a challenging situation. But when a little becomes a lot, bad things start to happen.
On a very basic level, high levels of stress hurt a person’s ability to function. When a person has trouble functioning – either personally or professionally – serious problems begin to arise. If left unchecked, stress can fester and evolve into debilitating long-term emotional issues. And it’s these issues that can cost an employer thousands of pounds per year for each affected employee.
But there is a silver lining to the employee stress problem. While it can’t be eliminated, it can be reduced. And most businesses already have the programs in place to do it. The problem is that they simply aren’t being used.
The help is there, but it isn’t being utilized
Here is the situation:
- Employees are stressed. About 40 percent of the adult population suffers from long-term stress and about two-thirds of employees say they have difficulty at work because of stress.
- Employers have employee assistance programs (EAPs) to help with stress. Some 97 percent of companies with more than 5,000 employees have EAPs, 80 percent of companies with 1,001 – 5,000 employees have one, and 75 percent of companies with 251 – 1,000 employees provide the service.
- But on average, utilization of EAPs is less than 5 percent.
So what’s the disconnect?
They’ll use it if you talk about it
Companies invest in tools like EAPs, wellness programs, and work-life services for a reason – they want employees to have the support they need to be happy, healthy, and productive. But all too often, employees see these resources as things to try as a last resort, something that they should only use if their situation becomes severe.
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This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Businesses need to promote, discuss and communicate exactly why they pay to provide these services. If people don’t understand the tools at their disposal and how to use them to help manage stress, depression, anxiety, and similar issues, they won’t do it. Often, it’s that simple.
The more you talk about it, the more people will get it – and use it.
So yes, employees are stressed. And true, businesses are never going to be able to completely remove stress from their workplace.
Remind them what is available
But if you run a business, here’s something to consider: You can address your employee stress problems, help employees who need it, and make more money while you’re at it simply by telling people about the resources you’re already providing.
Remind employees about the resources they have at their disposal. It’ll do a world of good – for you, them, and your bottom line.