5 Ways Job Stress Is Killing Your Business - HeadStrongPerformance

5 Ways Job Stress Is Killing Your Business

Five Ways Job Stress Is Killing Your Business

Five Ways Job Stress Is Killing Your Business

In today’s volatile business climate, job stress is considered one of the main reasons why organizations struggle to retain their people and maintain a healthy, happy, and productive work culture that is primed for sustained economic growth.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health defines job stress as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.” A report by the American Psychological Association in 2013 showed that one in five Americans suffers from severe stress. One in five – that’s 20 percent of the entire U.S. population, or about 60 million people suffering from severe stress at any one time. Stress, of course, is not only limited to the United States. All around the world, people are struggling to manage their stress at work showing that stress is a global epidemic with global economic consequences.

In my seminars, I often ask my audience how they feel job stress affects their personal lives, but also their professional careers. In many cases, people struggle to come up with more than 3 impacts of stress beyond how it affects them at a personal level. The general consensus is that we seem to be able to recognize the catastrophic effects stress has on our own individual health and performance, but we often struggle to realize how the symptoms of stress can have a much greater impact on organizational performance and revenue.

We are not alone in our inability to fully comprehend the financial magnitude that stress has on our companies. Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business mentions in his book: Dying For A Paycheck that employers are generally not in a hurry to stop their employees from sacrificing their health for the good of the company. Pfeffer goes on to mention that many bosses today still treat work exhaustion and long work hours as a badge of honor and many companies still reward their employees for trading in their own health and wellbeing for the good of the company thus creating a culture of workers who stretch themselves beyond their capabilities and are no longer able to perform at peak fitness.

To further highlight the insidious nature of stress, here are 5 ways job stress might be impacting your business.

  1. Job Stress causes ineffective decision-making:

It’s not that stressed-out people don’t make decisions, although procrastination is common. It’s more that stressed out brains don’t make the most effective choices. A stressed-out brain will tend to focus on short-term gratification and immediate results in an attempt to modulate its stress. These fight-or-flight decisions often seem like a great decision at the moment only to come back later with a massive negative, and financial consequence.

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  1. Job Stress destroys our brand promise:

The key to a strong brand promise is to consistently do what we promise, which in turn builds consumer trust and brand loyalty. Stress is exhausting for the brain resulting in a reduction of energy reserve required to inhibit emotional behavior that can negatively affect the emotional states of those around us. When we’re struggling with our stress and others see us struggling through our coping behaviors, it can be deeply demoralizing for those around us, in turn reducing their morale. As morale of the company culture drops, so too does the employee enthusiasm to uphold the brand promise resulting in an inconsistent customer experience and destruction of trust in the product and company. Ultimately, this will have a disastrous effect on market shares.

  1. Job Stress robs us of our creative and innovative capacity:

Generally, stress puts us in a fight-or-flight frame of mind that is precisely the opposite of where we need to be if we want to come up with new innovative products and creative solutions to problems. Innovation and creativity in the brain are best harnessed in an environment of fun and happiness, not in an environment of threat and fear.

  1. Job Stress brings productivity to a halt:

Mental fatigue from stress and stress-related sleep deprivation have a massive impact on the brain’s capacity to perform consistently, which in turn reduces productivity and increases the number of errors at work. Furthermore, when fight-or-flight responses become a regular phenomenon, the body loses its ability to recover from its stress causing dysregulation in the brain and body that manifests itself as chronic fatigue and burnout. Companies with chronically fatigued people may still be able to generate a profit, but their ability to thrive and soar will be dramatically reduced with every chronically fatigued staff member.

  1. Job Stress is expensive:

It’s pretty much a no brainer that the previous four sections will all have a significant negative financial impact due to a loss in productivity. Stress has also been shown to have a direct financial cost in the form of absenteeism and employee turnover.

In fact, recent research on job stress has shown to be costing businesses in the United States a whopping five hundred Billion dollars per year. Employees are staying home from work on sick leave and a whopping three-quarters of all employees are actively fleeing from their current workplaces resulting in high turnover rates. Turnover, in itself, has been estimated to cost a company twenty percent of an employee’s annual salary and can rise to fifty percent depending on the position.

If a large percentage of the workforce is suffering from stress, it will surely have a negative impact on the organization’s bottom line. Unfortunately, the ill effects of stress are not only limited to the workforce. After work, employees go back to their homes, often carrying their stress with them like an infectious virus that affects everyone they come in touch with making job stress an epidemic of unprecedented proportion.

In my book: HeadStrong Performance, I not only talk about the ill effects of chronic stress and productivity, but also discuss how we can use the power of our brains to turn a perceived stressor that triggers a fight-or-flight response into a positive challenge that actually energizes our minds, giving us an opportunity to use stress as a means to build resilience and improve performance.

Watch this space for some interesting solutions to how we can combat stress in the workplace.