Managing stress in the workplace – it is your business

Workplace stress is eroding worker’s health and costing employers billions of dollars annually.

For an employee – the four out of five that feel overwhelmed with stress at work – the effect is deep, personal and lasting. Anxiety, depression, chronic pain, loss of sleep and other stress-related disorders visit with frightening regularity.

Employers are also slammed by workplace stress, if not personally,  their business is being hit in loss of productivity and costs such as sick leave to the tune of $300 billion in the U.S. alone, according to a study by Eastern Kentucky University.

The figure is tallied from the American Psychological Association, which looked at lost productivity, absenteeism, turnover and increased medical costs to the employer.

In Canada, mental health problems cost employers $20 billion annually, according to a 2010 Stats Canada report on workplace stress.

A BC Insider Infographic compiled from several sources showed the leading cause of stress in the workplace was workload (46 %), followed by people issues (28%) and juggling work and personal life (20%) and lack of job security (6%).

Almost one in three had back pain, 28% had generalized stress, one in five fatigue and 13% experienced headaches.

More than half admitted to calling in sick because of stress, while almost that many changed jobs because of it. Between 60-and 80% of workplace injuries due to stress-related distraction or sleepiness.

The list goes on.

To counteract the high workplace stress, employers are initiating work-life balance initiatives, enacting employee recognition and employee involvement in fixing problems.

Employers are also working on employee growth and development, including courses in leadership, time management, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence.

Ernst and Young is implementing stress management into its culture and AOL Media Networks is offering free in-office yoga.

For some time, Google, Nike, Deutsch Bank, Proctor and Gamble, General Foods and Aetna have implemented mindfulness training in their workplaces. All are seeing in the ballpark of 25% reductions in workplace stress.

Canadian companies are just beginning to pick up on the idea that getting in front of stress is just good business.

Many of the businesses coming to Still Here Mindfulness are higher stress, such as lawyers and doctors offices, which will see a much larger drop in anxiety through mindful practices.

I the appetite for service is any indication, there’s no shortage of anxiety in the Canadian workforce.

Kevin Diakiw