Stress happens when we feel a physical, mental or emotional response to something. Stress can result from any area of our life, personal or professional. Some stress is okay, and can be beneficial because it can give you the energy and motivation to rise to the challenge.
“Workplace stress” happens when there is a conflict between job demands and the amount of control you have over meeting them. The higher the job demands, and the lower the amount of control, the higher the levels of stress.
Too much stress can make us feel exhausted, frustrated, and dissatisfied, and can lead to health concerns. The body’s natural stress response includes increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. It can affect our digestion and immune systems. Stress can also affect our blood lipids and ability to clot. It can even increase our blood sugars, stomach acid, aches, and pains.
Here are some staggering statistics on stress:
In 2011, the mental health problems and illnesses of working adults in Canada cost employers more than $6 billion in lost productivity from absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover.
- According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 60% to 80% of doctors visits may have a stress-related component.
- A 2010 Statistics Canada General Social Survey found that 3.7 million workers feel a high level of stress during a regular day.
- In Canada, mental health problems and illnesses account for over one-third of disability claims and two-thirds of disability costs.
- In any given week, 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems.
It’s no surprise that workplace stress can affect work performance with reduced productivity and engagement. It can even result in absenteeism and turnover. Workplace stress contributes to accidents and injuries because employees may have bad moods, not get enough sleep, or may increase substance use. These then increase their forgetfulness, and decrease their attention spans and physical coordination. All of this contributes to poor judgements and decisions which increase the risk of accidents and injuries.
There are so many employer benefits to having a healthy workplace. It can attract and retain top employees, and improve morale and employee productivity. It can reduce sickness and absenteeism, not to mention accidents, injuries and disability claims.
Workplace stress can devastate a company’s primary asset…their workers. In Part II we’ll look at workplace wellness programs as a strategy for dealing with job-related stress.
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