Labor Day Thoughts On Stress And The American Worker

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Workplace Stress
Photo: How Workplace Pressure Prompts Employee Resignations (Credit: PRNewsFoto/Randstad.)

As the nation celebrates Labor Day and pays tribute to the American worker, an increasing number of employees continue to battle a workforce issue that threatens the productivity of businesses nationwide: stress. According to a recent Randstad Engagement study, U.S. employees cited stress as a top reason to quit their jobs.

Randstad asked 2,257 American workers what would be the most likely reasons to leave their current position. When asked to select up to three out of 10 possible factors that might push an employee to leave their job—including excessive workload and difficult working relationships—a high stress level (at 24%) was the third most selected reason, behind pay (37%), and opportunity for advancement (27%).

“As our nation continues to recover from the Great Recession, workplace stress has become the norm for many American workers who struggle with increased workloads, constant connectivity, and poor work-life balance,” said Jim Link, chief HR officer, Randstad North America. “This has become an issue of concern for employers nationwide, as it not only affects employee morale, but also a company’s bottom line. The American Psychological Association estimated that job stress costs U.S. businesses more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and healthcare costs.”

Who’s Most Likely to Quit Due to Stress: Women and Millennials

The study found the negative effects of workplace stress vary by gender and, to a lesser extent, age. For example, 27% of women (compared to 22% of men) cite a high stress level as a top reason to leave their current job. Within generational groups, one quarter (25%) of Gen Y/Millennial employees say stress is a likely reason they would leave their current organization, similar to Generation X and Baby Boomers, both at 24%. Clearly, the effects of stress in the workplace are measurable and can contribute to a hostile work environment.

“It’s crucial for managers to understand there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the problem of stress in the workplace, and some employees are more susceptible to stress than others,” Link said. “The good news about workplace stress is that it can be managed, especially when employers provide support—and that starts with being well-connected to your workers. Companies can impact employee stress by communicating regularly with workers to identify their concerns and establishing wellness programs that make healthy stress management a top priority across the organization.”

Five Tips to Alleviate Workplace Stress

  • Communicate often: By effectively communicating with workers, managers can better gauge the stress level of their employees and work to diminish pressure before it affects morale and productivity.
  • Encourage camaraderie: Employees who actively connect with one another often create a better office environment. It’s important to set aside time for staff to socialize and get to know one another.
  • Promote wellness: Give employees access to wellness programs that help relieve stress; whether it’s a company workout facility or reimbursements for yoga classes, wellness programs are proven strategies to help relieve workplace stress.
  • Set an example: Healthy stress management starts at the top; if employees consistently see their boss as being stressed, the negative energy can trickle down and impact the entire team.
  • Empower your employees: One of the most stress-inducing triggers is feeling out of control, so allow your staff to take ownership of their work and give them as much control as possible when it comes to making decisions on how work gets done.

Curious about your own stress level? Here is a link to a quick, visual stress test that allegedly indicates the level of stress in the person viewing the image. See the sample below, which is not animated.

Stress Test
The slower the picture moves the more likely you are to handle stress. Often children and seniors see it standing still.