If you manage employees at your company, read on to learn how to identify employee stress in its early stages and empower every member of your team to self-care.
Too Stressed to Work
Regardless of where stress comes from, it is found more frequently in workers every year. Today, workers worldwide feel even more stressed than they did in 2009.
Image by: Gallup, 2022
“Employers should pay close attention to the emotional wellbeing of their employees. Stressed employees are not productive or engaged in the work that they do,” said Laurie Mitchell, assistant vice president for global wellbeing and health for Colonial Life.
When organizational well-being suffers, so do corporate spending, employee productivity, and employee health.
Employees know they do not perform at their best when they are stressed. A survey of 1,505 full-time U.S. employees identified these four main impacts of stress.
Source: Colonial Life, 2019
Over the past decade, stress levels among workers worldwide have increased by 42% as shown in the 2022 study of Gallup. Approximately 1 million Americans are absent from work each day due to stress.
83% of workers in the U.S. suffer from work-related stress, with 25% saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives.
There is no doubt that the work environment has a direct impact on mental and emotional health. Based on a FlexJobs and Mental Health America (MHA) survey of more than 1,500 respondents in the U.S., more than three-quarters (76%) agree that workplace stress affects their mental health and leads to depression or anxiety, and 17% strongly agree.
Though, the workplace is not always the source of our stress, as it can also arise outside of work, such as caring for a loved one, who is sick or taking studying next to the job. In other words, stress can spill over from our personal life to our work life, just as it can the other way around.
According to another U.S. study of 2,000 workers, the top causes of workplace stress in the United States are workload (for 39% of workers), interpersonal issues (31%), work-life balance (19%) and job security (6%).
Source: Zippia, 2022
A lack of support in the workplace can have a negative impact on workers’ mental health in addition to already difficult circumstances. According to FlexJobs, only 5% of employees and 7% of the unemployed described their mental health as poor or very poor before the pandemic. Now, 18% of employees and 27% of the unemployed say they struggle with mental health issues.
In other words, the number of workers with poor mental health increased by 360%.
Mental health has been suffering overall since the pandemic began, but stress is a particular problem for workers. Of those who are employed, 42% report that their stress levels are currently high or very high, while 47% of the unemployed report high stress levels. According to a study by Colonial Life, the top stressors for respondents include:
- Personal finances
- Current events
- Concern for family health
- Professional commitments.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, three of the top six stressors for workers in the U.S. were health-related, including their own health, the health of their spouse/partner/children, and the health of an elderly family member.
With so much upheaval in all aspects of life during the pandemic, it’s no wonder workers are feeling the effects of increased stress. The good news is that you can help your employees recognize early signs of stress and take steps to improve their mental well-being before it escalates or even turns into a burn-out. Read on to learn how.
Mindfulness in the Workplace
The wellness market in the U.S. is growing rapidly and will likely continue to do so. According to the 2022 McKinsey Future of Wellness Survey, spending on wellness products and services in the United States is estimated at more than $450 billion and growing at more than 5% annually.
About 50% of U.S. consumers say wellness is a top priority in their daily lives. This is a significant increase from 42% in 2020. Investment in digital health startups reached a record high of about $29 billion in 2021, with about 730 deals, compared to about $15 billion in nearly 480 deals the previous year.
Despite the growing number of players in the market, the latest survey shows that consumer needs are not yet fully satisfied in many areas.
About 37% of consumers surveyed want additional products and services in the areas of sleep and mindfulness, and nearly one-third of customers also want more in the other four wellness dimensions.
Current employee benefits do not meet the needs of your team.
While 22% of employers offer flexible scheduling to their employees, only 10% offer mindfulness apps and services.
Mindfulness apps and services are a vainly underserved segment of wellness benefits, as 76% of employees who had access to the apps and services used them extensively or regularly.
You can fill this gap in your organization by empowering your team members to identify stress symptoms at a very early stage using a Ai Personal Digital Twin to gain more self-awareness that allows them to self-reflect on their environment and what is happening.
According to a study by Deloitte, workplace mental health solutions are known to have a 500% ROI between increasing work performance and reducing health-related costs. Or in other words, help your employees and benefit from a healthier organization that will perform on a higher level. This is an investment into more and sustainable resilience of your company.
Thanks to Ai based technologies, MindBank Ai can detect the increase of your stress level at a point, where even your personal environment or yourself would not notice it. This allows you to counter balance stress with less complex, time consuming and costly activities. That stage could be easily called the prevention stage.
Caring for Employees
If you have the opportunity, you should give every member of your team a chance to self-care. One way to do this might be to promote a holistic workplace.
A holistic workplace is a place where there is a sense of community and the interactions between employees have a positive impact on the entire organization. A holistic workplace is also a place where the needs of the individual are met, which has a variety of benefits for employees, businesses and society as a whole.
As companies invest in wellness and health to reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity, a holistic workplace can be a solution to some of the most pressing challenges facing businesses today. In this type of workplace, employees have the opportunity to thrive through better access to benefits and resources.
In other words, you need to take care of your employees so they learn to take care of themselves. Simple ways you can encourage self-care include recommendations to start using the Ai Personal Digital Twin, take breaks in the fresh air and exercise lightly, drink more water to feel energized, set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals, and engage with colleagues by having a casual conversation or even making a funny remark or joke to lighten the mood. If you are feeling drained and do not know where to start, you can use the simple, proven techniques of deep breathing, mindfulness and compassion.
By offering personality tests like the Big Five personality traits to your team members, you can raise awareness among your colleagues and learn a language for communicating with their unique personalities.
For example, the Big Five personality traits can help you learn not only about how your colleagues approach their work, but also about life in general. This knowledge will, in turn, help you find ways to interact and work appropriately with your teammates. MindBank Ai measures these Big Five personality traits using psycholinguistic models, and you only need 140 words to get an accurate result.
Meaning of Workplace Culture
While only 51% of employees say they receive the emotional support they need at work to manage their stress, they do believe there are ways employers can help them manage workplace stress and promote mental health.
For 43% of respondents, setting up mental health days is one of the top 3 priorities their workplace could do to better support them.
Similarly, according to McKinsey & Company surveys, by the end of 2020, the rate of employees returning to work after a mental health-related disability is over 50% for employers who offer more mental health support compared to employers who offer less support.
Cultivating a workplace culture with a supportive environment where employees are encouraged to connect with others and take care of themselves is the best way to create a stronger workforce. Start by looking at how your company already supports its employees. If you want to make even more progress, consider incorporating some of the tools and resources we have discussed in this article into your company’s / employee’s daily routine. This way, everyone will win and your investments will pay back greatly.
Work and Stress
Although workplace stress can negatively impact mental health and performance, there are some things you can do to improve the work environment and reduce stress among your employees. First, offer mindfulness and meditation apps to your employees. Offering your team members personality assessments like the Big Five personality traits is a good start for more self-awareness. At the same time, you should also think about how to use this new level of awareness to integrate it into a better work environment.
It is important that you create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns and asking questions. Try to be available for employees who need a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear. While it may seem scary to talk openly about stress, it’s important that you do so in a way that does not reinforce the stigma surrounding stress-related illnesses.
Finally, you can promote a healthier, team-oriented culture. Regardless of which workplace culture you prefer, you can make a difference by creating a supportive environment where employees are encouraged to connect with each other and take care of themselves. The benefits will be felt by everyone: you, your employees and your company.
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