Workplace stress is not new, but when left unchecked, it could lead to severe health issues and costs to the organization. In today’s blog, we will review the human resources cost of anxiety in the workplace.
Before we dig into the blog, let’s first examine the statistics globally that reveal how costly job stress is for an organization.
A report from the WHO revealed:
Depression and anxiety at the workplace could cost the US $1 trillion per year.
A study by Mental Health America states that:
Depression in jobs in America caused high absenteeism and reduced productivity that costs over 51 billion dollars.
A report by NIOSH reported the following statistics for job stress:
40% of workers reported their job as very stressful
75% of employees believe that workers have more stressful jobs than ever before
26% of workers reported being extremely stressed at work
The consequences of Stressful Workplace:
Stress can lead to a negative impact on our health, from physical to mental. Talking specifically about mental stress at the job, it can lead to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. This can lead to workers’ engagement in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, and poor dietary patterns.
A survey conducted on over 300 companies has reported that the number of employees falling sick due to workplace stress tripled from 1996 to 2000. It was also found that nearly 1 million workers remain absent every day due to job stress.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), absenteeism alone costs US employers $225.8 billion annually or about $1,685 per employee.
Another effect of job stress leads to the job resignation of the employees. As an organization, you may end up losing your valuable employee if the work culture is stressful.
A 2017 report by Work Institute revealed that replacing an employee costs about 33% salary of that employee to the organization.
A stressful working environment may impact the productivity of an employee. They may lose interest in working. A survey has reported that employees often spend 31-40 hours a week feeling distracted at work.
A study conducted by Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association) suggests that stress costs US employers an estimated 500 billion dollars in lost productivity annually.
The Significance of Good Mental Health at Workplace
Good mental health at the workplace can result in fewer days lost to sickness and an employee’s absence. It leads to improved productivity and interest in work. When employees feel good about their job and work, they tend to perform better at work. This further boosts self-esteem and confidence to work effectively. Ultimately, it lowers the staff turnover and reduces the recruitment costs.
The role of Human Resources in promoting a healthy work environment
The Human Resources department has a significant role to play in maintaining a stress-free environment at the workplace. Below are few mentioned steps:
- Develop a culture of support
- Prioritize mental health
- Set up an uplifting work environment
- Offer perks like team outing, extracurricular activities
- Recognize the efforts of the employees
The impact of COVID-19 on mental health during work from home
The global pandemic caused since 2019 has significantly changed the way we were working. It led to job loss for many while many have to work from home. Though it comes with many benefits like spending more time with family, avoiding traffic, and reducing travel expenses, there are many negative effects. It impacts the employee’s overall health due to extended working hours, the unclear depiction between work and home, salary cuts, and lack of support from organizations.
The work from home scenario amid COVID-19 times has resulted in increased stress, anxiety, and loneliness. According to a World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey, more than half of the employees experienced anxiety about changes in working patterns, and the majority showed being stressed about their job loss. It also revealed that in most countries, more than 40% of homeworkers started to feel loneliness.
The researchers at The University of Sydney and Cameron Fox have projected the cost of lost productivity for the organizations associated with employees’ psychological health could reach up to $114 billion by the year 2025.
What can Human Resources Department do to reduce mental stress on the employees?
The HR professionals have a major role to play in an organization. They act as a bridge between the employer and the employees. They are the ones who attract and retain high-quality employees, so they are responsible for maintaining a healthier work environment. To reduce the job stress for employees while working from the office or home, HR professionals can take certain supportive steps such as:
- Develop a wellness program to maintain optimum health of the employees
- Promote flexibility in working hours
- Encourage virtual team meetings to socialize and preserve connections
- Encourage employees to follow their hobby after office hours
- Encourage open and honest communication to improve productivity
- Provide fitness opportunities by organizing virtual workout sessions
The Bottom Line
Addressing the stress of the job of its employees can help an organization reap immense benefits in both the short and long terms. This includes everything from increased employee productivity to enhanced job interest and loyalty towards the organization.