The nature of work and the demands of the workplace have been continually evolving and have changed significantly over the last 50 years. Perhaps now more than ever before, work related stress poses recognizable threat to the health of workers.
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An Overview of Work-related Stress
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), work-related stress is the physical and emotional damage that occurs due to a mismatch between work requirements and the resources, needs, and capabilities of workers. Currently, 40% of American workers say that their jobs are very or extremely stressful. At the same time, 26% of employees say they are very often burned out, or stressed at the workplace. A further 29% of workers say that their jobs are a bit or extremely stressful, whereas 25% report that their jobs are the leading causes of stress. Meanwhile, 73% of workers say they experience stress related psychological symptoms regularly. Moreover, 77% of employees regularly encounter physical symptoms associated with stress. As a result, work-related stress has been the cause of fights between workers and people close to them. To avoid workplace stress, 60% of 26,000 workers surveyed in the US say that they would opt for a fresh career start. American employers have also been sucked into this storm spending $300 billion annually on employee healthcare and employee absence costs. It is important to note that all these costs are related to workplace stress.
Leading Causes of Workplace Stress
Workload accounts for 46% of all workplace stress incidents, whereas people issues account for 28% of stress at work problems. Additionally, juggling work/personal life challenges accounts for 20% of stress incidents reported by American workers, whereas lack of job security (6%) is the fourth leading cause of stress at the workplace.
Occupational Stress Symptoms
Up to 30% of workers diagnosed with workplace stress suffer from back pain, whereas 28% have complained of “stress.” In addition, 20% and 13% of workers say they have experienced fatigue and headaches respectively.
Impact of Stress on Human Health
Stress has a huge impact on both the economy and human health as it affects up to 50% of American workers. In particular, 52% of workers say they have called in sick due to stress, whereas 42% have changed jobs for similar reasons. Furthermore, 48% of employees cannot sleep well at night due to stress. Worryingly, 60 to 80% of workplace accidents are caused by stress-related problems such as distraction.
Physical Symptoms of Stress
The common physical symptoms associated with work-related stress include fatigue (51%), headache (44%), upset stomach (34%), muscle tension (30), appetite changes (23%), teeth grinding (17%), sex drive changes (15%) and dizziness (13%).
Psychological Symptoms of Stress
Besides physical symptoms, many workers experience psychological stress symptoms such as irritability/anger (50%), nervousness (45%), lack of energy (45%) and surprisingly, waiting to cry (35%).
The Financial Impact of Stress
Every year, an estimated one million workers miss work due to stress. This translates to financial losses of $602 per employee per year for every missed workday. In addition, the healthcare costs of stressed employees tend to be higher than for non-stressed workers. Stressed staff who go to work fare badly on the productivity front leading to productivity losses totaling $10 billion annually. It is worth noting that absenteeism from work is responsible for 26% of health related productivity losses.
The Benefits of Preventing Workplace Burnout
Organizations that have implemented measures to address burnout have a staff turnover rate of just 6%, which is low compared to the national average of 38%. Moreover, the rate of staff reporting “chronic work stress” stood at 19% compared to the national average of 35%. Employees at the same organizations registered higher job satisfaction scores meaning they were unlikely to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
Tips for Managing Workplace Stress
Firstly, employers should promote a healthy work-life balance. A good example is the architectural and engineering firm Bowers + Kubota that offers telecommuting, paid time off, and flex time perks. Employee recognition strategies including profit-sharing programs, bonuses, and cost-of-living salary raises could reduce stress incidents at work. Organizing staff retreats, interacting with staff to learn more about their problems, and monitoring job satisfaction can help as well. Providing workers with career growth and development opportunities could also reduce workplace stress rates.
Fortune 500 Case Studies
PWC employees see popups reminding them that it is the weekend if they open their work email accounts over the weekend. Employees at AOL Media can attend free in-office Yoga sessions to relieve stress.
Work-related stress is a huge problem in America. The common symptoms of work-related stress/burnout include lack of sleep, irritability, lack of energy, stomach upsets, headaches, and fatigue. Luckily, employers can address this issue by instituting better work-life balance, employee recognition, employee involvement and career growth measures.