July 24,2015

Stress in the Workplace – Part 2

The Causes and Costs of Workplace Stress

What’s so different about today’s workplace? Job stress may be caused by a complex set of reasons. Some of the most visible causes of workplace stress are:Job Insecurity

  • High Demands for Performance
  • Technology
  • Workplace Culture
  • Personal or Family Issues
  • Demographic Changes of the Workforce
  • Career Development

$300 billion, or $7,500 per employee, is spent annually in the U.S. on stress-related compensation claims, reduced productivity, absenteeism, health insurance costs, direct medical expenses (nearly 50% higher for workers who report stress), and employee turnover. In North America, Long-term Disability (LTD) claims due to mental & nervous (M&N) disorders have more than tripled since 1990. GeneralColonge Re, a disability re-insurer, notes that when there is no maximum duration for M&N claims, these forms of claims make up more than 20% of all LTD benefits. However, when a two-year LTD benefit limitation is placed into the policy, the percentage drops to 8%. These statistics show that the majority of these claims last longer than 2 years, and the US is seeing a trend towards M&N limitations to try and slow down the surge in LTD claims over the past few years. The American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) states that, out of all Short-Term Disability (STD) claims submitted by white-collar Canadians for M&N disorders, 75% were related to depression due to the fact that they were having difficulty performing normal work-related tasks as efficiently as before. S

Survival Strategies

Some stress is normal – life would be boring if we didn’t have the motivation to meet our daily challenges both at home and work. Because change is constant in life, stress is an integral part of it. The following are some long-term tips to survive stress:

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Currently, 10-30% of employees currently experiencing personal problems bring those problems with them to work. National statistics indicate that employee personal problems result in 25-45% reduction in job performance. EAPs offer a confidential, short-term support structure for employees – a network that can help them with financial, legal, physical, abuse and parental issues. Statistics show a marked improvement on productivity and personnel issues when EAPs are introduced.
  • Get enough sleep! Currently, the average North American has 6.7 hours of sleep per night. However, the body requires 8+ hours to maximize peak performance.
  • In today’s business climate, a person must be continually prepared for changes to avoid stress and survive in the competitive world.
  • Find and protect whatever time you get to refresh, re-energize, and re-motivate.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking and other substances when under constant stress.
  • Reduce workplace stress by celebrating staff member’s accomplishments.
  • Learn to delegate. Many Type A personalities can’t let go – but find out when they do that they are more productive and a better contributor to their company.
  • Learn to say No, or ask for help. Many perceive this is a sign of weakness – but it’s crucial to one’s overall job performance. It’s better to do fewer things perfectly, than many things half-heartedly and behind schedule.
  • Find time to just breathe. Waiting for photocopies or being placed on hold with a client are perfect opportunities to stretch and take some slow deep breaths. This helps regulate your nervous system, helping to achieve a calmer sense of self.

Remember, your staff members are your most valuable resource and largest investment! Maintaining and cultivating a happy and highly functioning workforce will ensure your most important assets do not become liabilities.