Workplace Wellness -The Cost of Stress at Your Workplace

It’s very rare to go a day without hearing the word “stress”.  It’s probably the most overused word in the English language.  Today, stress is a lot of things to a lot of people:

– It’s a noun – “I’m under a lot of stress.”
– It’s a verb – “You stress me out.”
– It’s an adjective – “I have a high stress job.”
– It’s a physical condition – “I have a high stress level”
– It’s a way of living – “She leads a stressful lifestyle.”

What’s scary is that the cost of stress hits both individuals and organizations in so many silent ways that neither knows they are under attack until the damage is done. The effects of chronic stress are not immediate and symptoms are few, which makes it much more challenging to identify the cause and come up with a solution. Statistics from the World Health Organization state that stress costs businesses in the U.S. approximately $300 billion every year.

To the individual, the cost of chronic stress is measured as a lack of happiness. ComSych, an Employee Assistance Program provider, found that 38% of employees can’t stop worrying about problems like emotional, health, financial, and work concerns.  Studies cited by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicate that 40% of all workers today feel overworked, pressured, and squeezed to the point where it affects their ability to do their job to their full potential.

With numbers and words as serious as those, organizations will naturally want to solve for the problem. But where should they start?  Since stress does not come from a single source, a single source solution will not solve the problem. Many attempts by organizations to assist their people are too narrow-minded to be effective because they only take into account some of the stressors that affect people. There is also the another challenge of engaging employees in a meaningful way. By “meaningful,” I am referring to positive change finding its way into that person’s everyday life.

“Now what do I do?” needs to be asked by the employer that seeks to assist their employees within the workplace. People require resources and practical information that they can learn to implement into their lives. The two biggest obstacles for a person seeking to make behavior change in their life are (1) knowing where to start and (2) how to keep momentum.  There are many resources available through insurance providers, employee assistance programs, wellness vendors, and even people within your organization that may enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences.