Do you remember the day when you graduated? Standing next to your friends, feeling proud, joyous, and hungry for life. Eager to make a difference.
After a couple of years (or decades) at work, do you still have that same hunger and motivation?
I really hope you do! But for many people, it fades away and disappears under stress, deadlines, pressure, and rush. Bags under eyes replace the sparkle of motivation in them. Life’s about surviving through the day despite stress and fatigue, and inevitably, the body starts to react to chronic stress, causing physical and mental health issues. All because of stress, rush, and poor stress management.
Isn’t it such a waste of talent, motivation, and happiness?
In chronic stress nobody wins
A small amount of stress can push to go above and beyond. Seeing the deadline gives the kick to stop procrastinating and get things done. But when it comes to chronic stress, the pros and cons list is nothing fun to read.
Workplace stress affects individual well-being AND organizational performance.
Chronic stress leads to numerous health problems, reduces the quality of life, and affects the performance at work. American Institute of Stress estimates that job stress costs U.S. industry more than $300 billion a year.
When chronic stress takes over, employee’s productivity and creativity drop down, the number of sick leaves increase, and the employee will be expensive for the company for his absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as for the medical, legal and insurance costs.
It’s so much more than merely an inconvenience. We’re face to face with an expensive, multi-billion problem.
Work remains a on the upper end stressor
American’s stress levels are historically high. Nationwide stress level on a scale of 1 to 10 was 4.8 in 2017, according to the annual “Stress in America” report published by APA. Younger generations continue reporting higher stress levels compared to older ones, and people with lower incomes experience more stress than those with higher incomes.
Even though the political situation worries Americans more than before, money and work remain common stressors, with 65 percent of employees mentioning work as a source of stress. An alarming one-third of employees report chronic stress — that should be unacceptable.
The problem is not only characteristic for Americans, as Europeans are in the same boat. According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 50–60 percent of lost working days (meaning absenteeism or presenteeism) are caused by stress-related reasons.
There’s more than a workload
Yes, workload covers the main reason for stress at work, but there’s often more than that. People issues — not getting along with colleagues or supervisors, or experiencing some discrimination or workplace bullying are huge stressors for an individual.
Work stress can also come from an imbalance between person’s capabilities and job demands. Either the demands are too high, exceeding one’s capabilities — or they’re too low, leaving the person feeling unappreciated at work. It comes down to finding the best matches between people and tasks.
Whatever the reason is, work stress is rarely a problem that a person can solve solely. Stress management tools and healthy habits can help, for sure, but if the stressor remains the same, results won’t be permanent. That’s why communicating with a manager is necessary for reducing and preventing work stress.
From blaming each other towards a mutual goal
Chronic stress causes problems for both an employee and the employer. Avoiding excessive stress at work should thus be a shared goal. If both sides suffer from it, both sides should care about it.
Business can’t be sustainable and thrive forever with highly stressed-out people. A human body can only take a limited amount of chronic stress before showing some signs of exhaustion. We’re not replaced by robots, yet.
A chronically stressed-out employee does not perform as well as a healthy and energetic one does.