When it comes to workplace stress, is it a personal or business issue? Yes, it is experienced by individuals, and yes, it can have origins in their personal lives; however, its impact on the workplace, and on business can be significant. Stress damages productivity.
Wellspace runs wellness programmes with the ultimate aim of revolutionising employee health and wellbeing. The individual is not the only beneficiary here: work related anxiety, stress and other debilitating conditions are a business issue too.
Various research studies have found that a rise in presenteeism has affected productivity in the UK, with two out of three employees attending work while feeling ill. Much of this illness is attributable to stress.
Presenteeism, or working while sick, can be a hidden cause of falling productivity when compared to absenteeism, but for this reason it can also be much tougher to remedy.
Overall, stress is an ever-present feature of the 21st century, according to the Physiological Society, with both minor and major occurrences in people’s lives contributing to rising stress levels.
For employers, therefore, it is vital that they take steps to identify stress, to raise employee awareness of it, and put policies, procedures and processes in place to help deal with and alleviate it.
What Causes Workplace Stress?
Stress in the workplace has several causes. Some are directly work-related, such as inadequate staffing and resources; but some are also connected to lifestyle issues.
A lack of work-life balance is frequently reported by UK employers as a major cause of stress, and people’s lives can become very intertwined with their experiences in the workplace.
HSE (Health & Safety Executive) lists six main areas where stress can arise at work. These are:
- role; and
It also notes that stress affects people differently, and what may affect one employee will not have the same impact on another.
This makes stress difficult to identify and address. Furthermore, stress can be well hidden, even from those suffering from it.
Without an understanding of the causes of stress, however, businesses are likely to struggle in finding effective ways to deal with it. The risk is that they focus energy and resources on the wrong areas.
Moreover, the top sources of stress can change. Business psychology research revealed the number one cause of employee stress to be too much change in the workplace, in the period 2007–2010. However, in the period 20111–2013, this had shifted to people feeling they did not have enough time to do their job.
Why is Employee Stress Sometimes Hidden?
Employers should support employees who are experiencing stress or other mental health problems. The difficulty can be in identifying stress in the first place.
Stress narrows people’s focus. Psychologists refer to this as a reduction in cognitive capacity. However, because of this, sufferers of stress may not realise exactly what is happening to them.
People suffering from stress can lose sight of the bigger picture. In this way, stress acts by stealth, and may hide itself in other symptoms, often physical.
When stress expresses itself physically it can mean regular headaches, or a persistent sore or dry mouth, or a twitching eyelid.
In terms of behaviour, individuals suffering stress can become irritable and easily agitated. They may experience sudden feelings of sadness or elation for no apparent reason.
These symptoms of hidden stress can make themselves felt in the workplace, affecting both the sufferer and those around them. Stress impacts on things like decision-making and how organised people are. It can therefore have a corrosive effect on workplace behaviour and culture.
It can lead to higher rates of injury, to workplace conflict, a rise in disputes and a decline in employee relations. All of these things can have a serious, negative business impact.
How bad stress is for businesses and organisations is measurable in economic terms.
It is like the negative of measuring a return on investment. The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) has guidelines for stress management, including ways to help businesses estimate the cost of work-related stress.
There are key areas, according to CIPD, where stress impacts on business. Including sickness absence, turnover and productivity.
What Is The Impact Of Employee Stress On Productivity?
While businesses and organisations have duty of care to their employees, stress is something that can have a ripple effect, disrupting the wider organisational wellbeing.
Presenteeism means productivity loss, which can have a long-term economic impact.
The link between high levels of stress and productivity is potentially destructive. In the UK, the proportion of employees claiming high levels of workplace stress stands at over 30%, according to research from the Towers Watson Global Benefits Attitudes Survey.
Half of those employees claiming high stress levels also report that they feel disengaged. These high stress levels also contribute to increased absenteeism.
Both absenteeism and disengagement are clear indicators of low productivity.
The Vicious Circle Of Workplace Stress and Productivity
The problem with presenteeism is that the lower productivity it fuels also fuels the top source of stress, not having enough time to do the job. The more people who are present in work in body only, and not mentally focused on the task in hand, the more the pressure grows on the remainder of the workforce.
At the same time, workplace culture is more pervasive than ever before in people’s lives, with mobile phones and other devices leaving many employees feeling, to a greater extent, that they are always on call.
This perceived impact on work-life balance fuels stress and damages productivity.
Caring for Your Workforce With Wellspace
Businesses need to get the best out of their workforces, but that means helping them take care of themselves. The UK’s productivity still lags behind that of Europe, and with plenty of economic challenges ahead, the country’s businesses need employees who are engaged, who feel valued, and who are mindful of their own wellbeing.
Is it time to ensure your employees look after themselves, and that you can demonstrate your concern?
If so, then Wellspace should be your first port of call. With our dedicated team of health and wellbeing professionals, we can ensure the wellness of your workforce is paramount, ensuring both healthy and happy staff and a productive and profitable company.
Our flexible pricing and packages ensure you can get the support you need, whatever the size and shape of your business. So don’t delay, put the wellbeing of your staff first today and improve all aspects of your company going forwards.
Contact Wellspace today using our online form, and we will be in touch as soon as we possibly can.