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What is the impact of stress in the workplace?

What is the impact of stress in the workplace?

Work environment stress can have far-reaching implications for organizations, with potential ramifications that we must not overlook. It’s essential to recognize the causes of stress in the workplace, the impact they can have, and take steps to mitigate the effects.

What are the effects of workplace stress? From decreased productivity to increased absenteeism, it’s vital to learn how stress affects workers, and more importantly, how to minimize the impact on your workforce. Below, we’ll explore the harmful effects of stress in the workplace and discuss how to foster a healthy, happy, and productive work environment.

The negative effects of stress in the workplace

The effects of work stress can result in burnout, reduced motivation, decreased job satisfaction, physical and mental health problems, low productivity, increased absenteeism, high turnover rates, low morale, interpersonal conflicts, and more. Below we explore these detrimental impacts of stress in the workplace in-depth and provide solutions for improving working conditions.

1. Burnout

Burnout is a severe form of psychological depletion that results from recurrent or constant stress. It’s characterized by feelings of cynicism, lack of motivation, detachment from work-related activities, and decreased performance levels. 

Symptoms of burnout may include fatigue, irritability, or apathy towards work tasks. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is so prevalent in today’s workforce, it’s now listed as an occupational phenomenon in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) (although they stopped short of classifying it as an actual “disease”).

Solution: Creating a culture where employees feel valued and appreciated can prevent employee burnout. Discouraging unnecessarily tight deadlines, prolonged work hours, and feelings of job insecurity are key to creating an environment where stressors are minimized. Providing resources like access to therapy for employees, options for flexible working hours, telecommuting opportunities, and incentive programs for professional growth and development are all effective ways to combat employee burnout and decrease potential stressors.

Reduced motivation and job satisfaction

Employees who experience excessive stress may become emotionally exhausted, leading to a lack of motivation that can negatively affect company culture. When people aren’t motivated to work and get little satisfaction from their job, it can harm job performance and create a stressful environment for everyone. 

Solution: Motivate employees by recognizing outstanding work and celebrating employee performance. Put incentives that employees can work toward in place and ensure goals are well-defined and measurable. 

3. Physical health and mental health problems

Chronic stress can impact physical health — people may experience negative health effects such as headaches, insomnia, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, and fatigue, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control. It can also result in mental health issues like depression and anxiety at work.  

Solution: Offering gym memberships and providing mental health concerns. Encourage employees to invest in their physical health, which can lead to better mental health. A small but effective step could be as simple as providing healthy snacks in the breakroom, promoting outdoor walks between tasks, or organizing short yoga or meditation breaks throughout the workday. 

4. Low productivity

Workplace stress can manifest in decreased productivity, resulting in lower output and affecting revenue, customer satisfaction, and company morale. The fallout can be significant when employees aren’t productive in their roles.  

Solution: Productivity in the workplace can be improved at every level of an organization. You can create less work-related stress and more productive employees by having strong onboarding processes, encouraging employees to take time off, and establishing collaborative rather than micromanaging environments. 

5. Increased absenteeism and turnover rates

Employee stress in the workplace can result in higher absenteeism due to illness stemming from prolonged stress. People also might miss work because stress causes low motivation and a lack of energy. Ultimately, high absentee and turnover rates can lead to decreased morale and lost productivity in terms of time and money for organizations.

Top tip: Enforcing mental health days and enough time off is an excellent way to ensure employees have a chance to reset and recharge. 

6. Low morale

Stress can cause low morale due to an inability to cope with current events, the heavy workload or environment. The most challenging part of this is that it can spread. Low confidence breeds low morale, potentially causing a negative effect on the company-wide mentality and a toxic corporate culture. 

Solution: Plan team-building activities that boost morale and camaraderie while establishing trust throughout your organization. Some examples include group workshops, classes, or hosting team mindfulness activities. Team-building promotes employee engagement, making employees feel cared about. When people feel cared about, they care more. Also, ensure your company culture promotes work-life balance and has open-door policies showing employees they’re valued. 

7. Interpersonal conflicts

Interpersonal conflicts with coworkers or superiors can understandably lead to increased levels of workplace stress. Whether it’s with a colleague or a manager or supervisor, this stressful situation can trickle over into an inability to do a job effectively or efficiently. 

Solution: Organizations should have a strong conflict resolution plan. Healthy dialogue is based on trust, and there are simple steps you can take to make sure issues are resolved quickly and satisfactorily. First, figure out the cause of the conflict. It’s best if parties can meet earlier in the day rather than at the end of a long day or week when everyone wants to go home. Finally, be solution-focused and use active listening practices.  

The positive effects of managing stress in the workplace

Managing the effects of stress in the workplace is a key factor for any organization’s success. Stress in the workplace can be disadvantageous, but positive outcomes are possible, depending on how it’s handled. 

When organizations put effort into controlling stress in the workplace, they can reap the rewards such as:

  • Enhanced employee health and contentment
  • Heightened motivation
  • Higher productivity levels
  • Increased efficiency
  • Diminished absenteeism rates
  • Lower rate of turnover

Improved employee health and well-being

Employee health and well-being are essential to an organization’s success. Investing in stress management strategies and workplace wellness programs helps employees stay healthy by reducing physical ailments such as headaches or fatigue due to a high-stress level. 

It also improves mental well-being by helping employees reduce their anxiety levels, which can help with focus and concentration throughout the day. In addition, managing workplace stress helps foster a supportive environment where employees feel appreciated for their hard work instead of feeling overwhelmed or stressed about meeting deadlines or performance expectations. 

Talkspace provides a great way to reduce the effects of stress by providing mental health services for organizations and their staff. Some research suggests that messaging therapy for depression and anxiety increased productivity by 36%. 

Increased motivation and job satisfaction

Investing in ways to manage workplace stress can positively affect employee motivation, leading to higher job satisfaction and, ultimately, increased productivity. When people are motivated and happy, they’re much more inclined to work harder, stay with a company longer, and produce better work. 

Increased productivity and efficiency

By implementing stress management techniques in the workplace, employees can experience increased productivity and efficiency. This is a win-win for organizations, who reap the benefits of more productive, faster output from their people. 

Reduced absenteeism and turnover rates

With the right tools and resources, companies can effectively reduce absenteeism and turnover rates while boosting team morale. One study shows that when employees have access to message-based therapy, absenteeism declines by 50%.

Another study conducted by Talkspace that surveyed more than 1400 people in 2022 found that when people are offered access to mental health services:

  • 70% of young workers would be willing to stay at their job
  • 68% of working parents would be willing to stay at their job
  • 66% of people who were considering quitting would be willing to stay at their job

Minimize the effects of stress in the workplace 

We must recognize the potential ramifications and impact of stress in the workplace and take steps to mitigate them. This can include providing access to mental health services like Talkspace. Reducing work related stress can promote better job performance and reduce potential employee turnover.

Steps to reduce occupational stress can include celebrating employees’ wins, prioritizing work life balance, and providing access to mental health services like Talkspace. Investing in a partnership with Talkspace can benefit any organization, reducing burnout costs and creating a more positive, engaged, and productive employee atmosphere.

Take proactive steps today to reduce workplace stress levels by offering employee assistance programs including mental health services for your employees. Invest in their well-being and create a healthier, happier work environment.

Sources:

  1. “Burn-out an ‘Occupational Phenomenon’: International Classification of Diseases.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, 2019. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases.  
  2. “Stress...at Work (99-101).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), June 6, 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/default.html#Job%20Stress%20and%20Health
  3. DellaCrosse, Meghan, Kush Mahan, and Thomas D. Hull. “The Effect of Messaging Therapy for Depression and Anxiety on Employee Productivity.” Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science 4, no. 1 (2018): 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-018-0064-4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41347-018-0064-4#citeas.  

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