According to a recent study, approximately 40% of employees experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety on a daily basis in the workplace.
It’s a costly epidemic.
Karen Higginbottom over at Forbes writes, “Employees suffering from high stress levels have lower engagement, are less productive and have higher absenteeism levels than those not working under excessive pressure…”
“The economic consequences also are alarming,” writes Rebecca Maxon over at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “[In the U.S. alone] workplace stress costs…employers an estimated $200 billion per year in absenteeism, lower productivity, staff turnover, workers’ compensation, medical insurance and other stress-related expenses.
Apart from the effects experienced by the employing company and the overall economy, however, stress can also be harmful to the employee herself.
Increased levels of job stress, for instance, have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders.
Even the United Nations’ International Labor Organization has defined occupational stress as a “global epidemic.”
What can companies do about workplace stress?
“Creating a psychologically healthy workplace is good for employees and business results,” says Norman B. Anderson, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. “This is a growing trend and it is our hope that all organizations will eventually have some type of psychologically healthy workplace program.”
And one way to create a healthy workplace is through the development of an employee wellness program.
In fact, these days, many companies and business are implementing employee wellness programs. Here are just some of the benefits they’re experiencing:
- They improve productivity
Wellness programs are centered on helping individuals adopt healthy behaviors. In adopting these behaviors, people improve their health in a number of ways: better eating habits, more exercise, and an overall reduction in other risk factors such as high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol. Naturally, these positive factors all lead to an increase in energy and presence of mind, resulting in a workforce that’s happier, healthier, more focused, and of course: more productive. This is in part due to the fact that wellness programs mitigate causes of low productivity in the workplace such as depression or chronic pain.
- They decrease absenteeism
“Wellness programs have the ability to improve employee health,” says Dr. Steve Aldana, CEO of WellSteps, a company that offers employee wellness solutions, “and this can have an impact on whether or not individuals are absent from work.” In other words, with healthier employees, you’ll naturally face less instances of employees calling in sick.
- They improve employee retention
When employees are overworked, stressed, and burnt out, they tend to begin considering leaving their place of employment. However, having an employee wellness program in place will naturally help employees effectively manage stress and relieve burn-out and overwhelm, giving their morale a boost and showing them that the company cares about them—all winning components in ensuring employee loyalty.
- They improve employee recruitment
From Dr. Steve Aldana: “All the large software and tech companies are offering wellness [programs] with their benefits plans. They do this because they are all fighting with each other to hire and retain the best workforce possible. A rich benefits package makes it easier to get the best employees. A Virgin Health Miles/Workforce survey did find that about 87% of employees said they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.”
- They increase employee morale
When you feel healthy and happy, your morale is at an all-time high. Imagine a workplace where employees are eager to come into work every day, feel their best physically, emotionally, and mentally, and are able to be productive and engaged from start to finish? It may sound impossible, but more and more companies are experiencing workplace cultures like this due to their wellness programs.
The contributing factors to stress are many, but fortunately, so are the solutions. When leaders who are dedicated to the well-being of their employees commit themselves to creating healthier and happier working environments, they not only invest in their team but in the company’s overall well-being as well. A company can only be as strong as its moving parts, after all. Does your company have an employee wellness program in place? Tell us about it in the comments.