Impact of Employee Stress on Their Productivity and Employers

Sep 24, 2019
| The Extensis Team

For years, employers have known what overly stressed employees could mean for the organization. But awareness of workplace stress has grown significantly in recent years, culminating earlier this summer when the World Health Organization (WHO) classified workplace burnout as an official medical condition that stems from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Clearly, too much stress at work can negatively impact an individual’s health and wellness. But why else should employers care about managing workplace stress?

A study conducted earlier this year took a closer look at the impact employee stress can have on employers, and why companies should implement preventative measures and strategies.

Employee Stress Costs Employers Billions

Colonial Life conducted their survey in early March with over 1,500 full-time United States employees participating.
The results showed that more than 70% of respondents said they spend their time at work worrying, taking time away from their responsibilities.
When diving deeper into the causes of stress, jobs were listed as the number 1 reasons (29%). Here are all of the responses to the main causes of stress:
  • Job – 29%
  • Finances – 24%
  • Your health – 17%
  • Health of spouse/partner/children – 9%
  • Family – 8%
  • Elderly family member’s health – 5%

Financial wellness is a fast-growing trend for employers, with many expanding their benefit offerings to include services that can help their employees better handle financial issues that could lead to additional stress.

What Impact Does Stress Have at Work?

Next, the survey showed the breakdown in time spend at work thinking/worrying about stress:
  • Under 1 hour – 28%
  • 1 to 5 hours – 50%
  • 5 to 10 hours – 16%
  • Over 10 hours – 6%

According to Colonial Life, this lost time equates to billions of dollars spent on unproductive or disengaged employees.

Last, the results revealed the impact stress has on employees at work:
  • Made them less productive – 41%
  • Made them less engaged – 33%
  • Caused them to look for a new job – 15%
  • Made them absent more frequently – 14%

When asked how employers could help them manage stress, the two most popular responses from employees were additional salary and more paid time off.

Other top responses included:
  • Better retirement contributions
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Improved medical coverage and benefits
  • Wellness programs
  • Flexible work locations and telecommuting

Additionally, perks such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and telehealth programs, along with actively promoting work-life balance, can help employees manage and prevent stress.

Employers Must Have Strategies to Help Employees Manage Stress and Burnout

Even before the WHO acknowledged workplace burnout as a medical condition, employers needed to have plans in place to assist employees who were overwhelmed and stressed-out at work.
Whether it’s adding new perks and programs or enhancing compensation, addressing workplace stress benefits both employees and employers.

One area of HR is becoming increasingly more difficult for small employers to properly handle — maintaining compliance with employment laws. Download our eBook, Guide to Employment Law: Topics Employers Must Know to Stay Compliant, to learn more about some of the biggest trends and topics in employment law.

Guide to Employment Law eBook