Stress in the workplace is often just as unhealthy for workers as non-mental challenges. Stress can lead to severe issues with fatigue and poor performance on the job and may lead to physical injury or an accident. This creates dangers that could lead to physical harm, such as an accident. According to safety magazine EHS Today, citing a StressPulse survey by ComPsych Corp., 64% of employees have high stress levels. Additionally, 29% of employees miss three to six days per year because of stress. Among survey respondents, 16% missed more than six days per year. Stress can cause weight gain, sleep deprivation and a decreased desire for getting out and exercising. Forty-two percent of people taking the survey reported they just go home and watch TV to deal with stress.
Because of the dangers and health problems associated with this condition, employers may want to include a stress management system as part of an employee wellness program.
What causes stress? How can it be relieved?
The main causes of stress, the American Institute of Stress reported, are workload (46%) “people issues” (28%), work/life balance (20%), and lack of job security (6%). The institute advises those who feel stressed out to consider different exercises, which can invigorate people and help them to work off the negative energy. Examples include activities that range from jogging to meditation, yoga and tai chi. The nature of the exercise is not important so much as its regular application. Additional stress relievers include acupuncture, postural techniques and hobbies.
Just about anything that takes someone’s mind off of working can be a source of relief from job stress.
Stress can negatively impact businesses, but many employers don’t have adequate programs for dealing with it, said The Chronicle Herald, a news publication. Such programs can range from group activities to individual counseling with a stress expert. However, there still is an association of high stress levels for workers struggling with mental illness, which can be challenging.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint the start of (an emotional) injury,” said Denise Klotz, director of Saskatchewan’s Office of the Workers’ Advocate. “As things build up over time, people may not be seeking medical (advice) right away. Even with all the education and everything that’s out there, people still feel there’s a perceived stigma (attached to psychological strain).”
Best practices for reducing stress in the workplace
According to the National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH), stress comes from a combination of job stressors along with personal stressors. As such, people who have safeguards against stress in place will naturally feel less stressed out than someone who doesn’t have anything protecting them from work challenges.
Examples of good safeguards include the support of friends and co-workers, a positive and relaxed outlook and a healthy balance between work and personal life.
Things that might cause stress in the office include the way that work is structured; there could be too much, or it could be scheduled in such a way that it becomes difficult to take breaks. The jobs might also be tedious or boring for the employee to do over an extended period of time. Another cause for stress could be a management style that doesn’t lacks effective organizational communication or participation by employees.
By reducing or eliminating these stressors, employers may seen more productive, healthy workers.