Stress is Costing U.S. Companies Millions Each Year

The title of this post says it all.

Despite the fact that stress is the number one workforce risk issue, a 2013/2014 Towers Watson survey found that only 15% of employers identify improving employees’ emotional and mental health as a top priority of their health and productivity programs. And it’s costing them millions.

At moderate levels, stress can energize your employees and keep them focused. When those stress levels get too high, however, your people start feeling alienated, overwhelmed and unable to perform at their best. To keep employee stress from costing your company dearly, use these tips from PrideStaff:

Know the causes. In the Towers Watson study, employers identified the top three causes of workplace stress as:

  • Lack of work/life balance
  • Inadequate staffing
  • Technologies that make employees available outside of work hours

Employees, however, cited:

  • Inadequate staffing
  • Low pay/low pay increases
  • Unclear/conflicting job expectations

The lesson here? Make sure that you really understand what stresses your employees out (instead of making assumptions), so that you can devote adequate resources to addressing the causes.

Try a variety of stress management techniques. Once you understand the sources, experiment with a range of stress relievers to see what works best for your employees:

  • Move more. If their work is sedentary, help employees combat fatigue and strain by interspersing a few minutes of exercise into their workdays. Just five minutes of stretching, walking or light exercise can lift workers’ moods, increase energy, sharpen focus and relax both mind and body.
  • Have a good laugh. Teach your team to find the humor in situations. Plan “humor breaks,” where employees can share funny anecdotes (that are work-appropriate, of course). Do what you can to help employees have a good laugh during the day. It may not eliminate their problems, but it will definitely improve their attitudes.
  • Infuse nature. Loud equipment, fluorescent lights, ringing phones and bright monitors are about as far removed from nature as you can get. Help employees break the tedium and stress by getting fresh air frequently. Or, bring the outdoors into your workplace. Houseplants, natural materials (like shells, geodes or pebbles) and even posters of natural scenes can balance employees’ work spaces and provide focal points for calm.
  • Try brain games. Research on “brain games” has produced mixed results, but participants in one study who used an interactive brain exercise training site showed improvements in productivity, positive thinking and stress management.

Provide flexible work options. Give your employees the time away from work they need to stay focused, productive and balanced. Flextime, telecommuting, job sharing and extended leaves are options you may want to consider. Implement a formal program that allows employees to design their schedules to fit their personal lives.

Provide adequate staffing. Both employers and employees in the Towers Watson study listed inadequate staffing in their top three causes of workplace stress. Staffing services like PrideStaff provide on-demand and seasonal staffing support, as well as hiring assistance, to make sure you have the resources you need. We help you get work done and keep employees working at peak productivity.