“Foresight turns out to be a critical adaptive strategy for times of great stress.” – Jamais Cascio
According to the American Psychological Association, the top four causes of stress in the United States are as follows:
- Job Pressure – associated with co-workers, job tension, bosses, and work overload
- Money – associated with loss of job, reduced retirement money, medical expenses
- Health – associated with health crisis situations, terminal or chronic illness
- Relationships – associated with divorce, death of spouse, arguments with friends, loneliness
Interestingly enough, numbers two through four are also affected by job pressure. Employed individuals spend approximately 47 hours a week at work and in a lifetime that equates to over 100,000 hours!
Annual costs to employers in stress related health care and missed work – $300 billion! Clearly, job stress needs to be addressed.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “The main benefit of stress management is improved physical and mental health. Other benefits include enhanced efficiency, effectiveness, morale, and overall attitude in the workplace. Cost savings from these improvements for employers are substantial.”
One study conducted by the Canadian Institute of Stress Management showed the following “positive results” of stress management training:
- 52% reduction in disability time
- 58% reduction in the number work days absent
- 53% reduction in doctor office visits
- 48% reduction in headache frequency
- 46% reduction in stress related hyper-reactivity
So statistically, there is a strong relationship between your job and your stress level. How stressed out you are because of your job can lead to money, health, and relationship stress. The more stress you are under, the more likely you are to call in sick, see the doctor, go on disability, have more frequent headaches, and experience periods of hyper-reactivity!
The bottom line is that job stress is not good for you and it is not good for the company, as indicated by the cost to employers in excess of $300 billion in health care costs!
Now it’s important to know that not all stress at work is bad. There is actually stress that is beneficial to your job and in how you do it. Many people confuse stress with challenge. In other words, we’ve all worked in jobs where there were challenging projects; however, even though it causes some stress to take on these challenges, the stress we feel is more energizing both physically and psychologically and can actually motivate us to want to overcome the challenges.
Managing the bad stress is the key, and you can’t manage the bad stress unless you know where it comes from. Let’s look at some areas of potential workplace stress:
- Job Demands – Challenges within the job keep employees motivated; however, stress can build as the demands of the position and the increase in responsibilities grow. At some point, the individual will feel overwhelmed.
- Effort vs. Reward – Stress occurs when employees feel that the amount of effort they are putting in does not meet the rewards they are given. They become less motivated and psychologically stressed.
- Individual Control – The vast majority of us don’t have complete control over the work we do, but the more powerless we feel about our day-to-day activities, the greater amount of stress is apparent.
- Organizational Change – It has been said that the only one who likes change is a wet baby. Some welcome change. Others absolutely hate it, and when change is the constant and change is not communicated or handled well, the result is stress.
- Manager/Supervisor – We have all had good bosses, we have all had bad bosses, and we have all had bosses who have no business being bosses. When people have managers who are not aware or don’t seem to care about the needs of their subordinates, or whose management style clashes with employee motivational needs, stress runs rampant.
- Social (Peer) Support – We all need people that we can depend upon at work, people with whom we can share our frustrations. People that have your back, share your work values, and will just listen to you vent. Without that peer support, your job can be lonely and overly stressful.
- Job Security – Everyone worries about job security these days. Either they worry about the lack of advancement, trust within the workgroup, or whether their job will be there in the near future. This is one of the biggest areas of stress in the current job environment.
Knowing the cause areas is one thing. Knowing whether your employees are experiencing stress in these areas is important for identifying ways to alleviate it. There are various stress assessments available. TTI Success Insights™ has a stress assessment tool that not only identifies individual levels of stress in all of the aforementioned areas, but also affords the business owner the ability to create a team assessment combining the individual assessments. In this way, the company can easily identify the significant areas of stress to the employees who are experiencing it.
When you measure something, it becomes important. If the health and well-being of your employees and the overall health of your company or organization is important to you, then measuring, identifying, analyzing, and improving areas of employee stress should also be important to you.
About the Author — Ron Feher is the Chief Improvement Officer at WhiteRock Business Solutions where he helps turn small business strategy into reality. He is a strategic partner with Prana Business (Line-of-Sight™), certified professional analyst with TTI Success Insights®, and specializes in improving all aspects of business operations including executive coaching, employee stress assessments, business planning, and day-to-day operations improvement. Ron does Career Coaching as an outreach (#givingback). WhiteRock is located in Orange County, California and can be found at www.whiterockbusiness.net; or contact Ron directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (949-466-0943). #workplacestress @RonFeher