It’s Monday morning, Paul didn’t sleep well last night, he woke up five times thinking about the sales target he has to hit this quarter. This was the fourth weekend in a row that he had to work, and he does not feel there is an end in sight. He drags himself out of bed at 5am, skips breakfast, heads to the office to continue working, has another rushed lunch at his desk and works away until late in the evening. The last time he went for a drink with friends? He does not remember. By the time he finally makes it home he missed yet another dinner with his girlfriend, their relationship has been suffering under his stress levels since a while now. He feels exhausted and calls in sick the next day to get some of his energy back. He continues this vicious cycle but fails to hit the sales target at the end of the quarter, causing him even more pressure for the next quarter.
Can you identify with Paul, or know someone who can? We invented Paul’s character in order to tell the story but you get the gist, chances are many of us know first hand what Paul is going through.
13% of the global workforce is engaged at work, a staggering 87% is not (1). Not being engaged at work can have many sources, and today we look at one of the most widespread ones: stress.
Let us first frame the problem. Work-related stress, anxiety and depression were responsible for the loss of more than 11.7 million working days in Great Britain in 2017 and came at a cost of £5.2 billion (2).
Whilst a certain level of stress can be positive and motivational, a constant level of high-stress without end in sight can be detrimental to both, employees and companies. As a study from Towers Watson (3) shows, an employee who is highly stressed is also highly likely to engage less at work. The study showed that employees who are highly stressed were 77% more absent from work than employees with low stress. In addition, presenteeism - the act of going to work even though one feels unwell and is unproductive - was 50% higher for highly-stressed people compared to employees with low stress.
Long-term stress furthermore significantly impairs our health and wellbeing in the following ways:
Mental health: through the development of anxiety, burnout or depression
Physical health: through the development of insomnia, unhealthy eating habits, stomach ulcers, heart disease and more
If a person already suffers from a mental health issue, stress is only going to intensify the symptoms and can therefore become a heavy burden if left untreated.
We now know that high levels of stress can harm employee engagement at work, increase rates of both absenteeism and presenteeism, and significantly impair the mental and physical wellbeing of an individual. As a result, an individual is not able to work as efficiently, the output of an organisation suffers and profits are slowed down.
We all feel stressed at times but it is essential that stress is kept at bay and does not become a constant. Most importantly, employers can take action by raising awareness about stress and train employees on how to increase resilience levels and protect themselves.
Find out here how we at Passion And Fruit can help you and your teams to prevent and reduce stress in the workplace or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Stress is a biggie, but what else leads you to disconnect and disengage at work? Email us to let us know which topic we should raise awareness for in our next blogpost!
Because passion bears fruit!
(1) Gallup, 2017.
(2) Health and Safety Executive, 2017.
(3) Towers Watson, 2014.