Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Cost of Stress in the Workplace

Simulation - 3Image by onestudentry via Flickr
Often, as employers, we don’t think about the personal stress in employees lives as being detrimental to our businesses, but as stress levels increase, employees may begin to have problems at work that go unnoticed until its too late.  If any of your employees are experiencing symptoms that look like these, they may be dealing with stress that is building to an unhealthy point.

Frequent Grievances:  Stressed employees have less ability to cope with irritations and problems.  Grievances may be legitimate signs of organizational problems, however stressed employees may feel more powerless to evoke change and resort to complaining.

Absenteeism:  Avoiding problems at work by not being there is one way of dealing with stress.  When stress goes unresolved it leads to illness and physical problems.  Absent employees cost the company in productivity as well as increasing costs of health care.

Accidents:  Stress causes a narrow focus, inability to concentrate and forgetfulness.  Employees trying to maintain or increase their productivity may take short cuts which can lead to accidents.  Accidents lead to an increase in worker compensation claims.

Judgment Errors:  People find it difficult to concentrate under stress and may be preoccupied by their stressors.  Not being fully engaged, they can make errors in judgment that can be detrimental to their jobs and their safety.  Stress also has a dulling effect on the thinking process which causes the person to miss environmental cues.

Conflict:  Stressed employees have few reserves to cope with interpersonal problems with co-workers or supervisors.  Conflicted relationships at work can add to their own stress as well as the stress level of other employees.  When people are concerned with their safety and well being, their higher brain functions are impaired and they revert to more self protective measures. 

Customer Service:  Stressed and depleted employees virtually guarantee unhappy customers which affect the bottom line of any business. 

As employers, what can you do to help improve stress levels at work? 

EAP Programs:  EAP programs that provide counseling are an effective tool to move the employee into the healing process. 

Conflict Resolution:  Training in conflict resolution skills provides leadership with tools to mediate conflicts successfully. 

Positive Reinforcement:  Management styles can contribute to employee stress.  Positive reinforcement has been shown to be the most effective way to correct behavior while punishment is by far the least effective.

Organizational Problems:  Employees who feel empowered and have some control over their lives and their jobs will feel less stressed.  Address any legitimate problems in the organization and give employees a voice in those changes. This makes them a part of the solution.  

No comments: