There’s a shift in the collective social consciousness that’s spotlighting the importance of mental health awareness and self-care wellness. Workplace stress is now an occupational hazard that can no longer be minimized or eschewed by the “keep your head down and push through” principals of old.

Worksite stress causes billions of dollars in losses for American businesses annually. A drop in productivity, stress-related medical costs, workman’s comp claims, and chronic absenteeism are a few of the examples of how an unhealthy work atmosphere can become costly. The effect a stressful career can have on an employee can spill over into their personal lives. Physical and mental well being, quality of sleep, peace of mind, and personal relationships are among the negatively impacted elements of an employee’s life.

From reports from the World Health Organization to study from the Korn Ferry Institute, stress is on the rise in the corporate and private sectors. The ever-evolving technological business landscape has increased the demand for the modern worker’s efficiency and margin-thin results.

So what are some of the most common workplace stress in today’s work landscape?

An employee’s workload and expected hours committed to the job is the most significant factor in workplace stress. Ten-hour plus workdays and six-day extended workweeks have become increasingly common in a lot of industries. The expected duration of an employee being on the clock is only partly to blame for excessive workloads. An overwhelming number of tasks, competing against automation, and completing assignments outside of an employee’s job description to save the company resources are exhausting workers across the country. Disruption of work/life balance can decrease productivity and put a strain on one’s mental and physical health.

Lack of growth of job growth opportunities plays a notable role in employees’ stress levels. Execution and morale may suffer if there’s not a clear path to advancements in one’s career at any place of employment. Light at the end of the tunnel can often alleviate the feeling of stagnation in one’s current position. The demand for job security is equally important to employees. The notion of cuts in the budget, layoffs, and structural downsizing can distract and weigh on an otherwise focused subordinate.

Personal conflicts with co-workers and a lack of peer support are also to blame in the rise of workplace stress. A support system at a place of business helps maintain a healthy well-being ecosystem. Commiseration, cooperation, and an inclusive team dynamic lead to a sense of community in industries that are often isolating and cutthroat.

Low salaries. The adage of rising corporate profits, with wages remaining stagnant, has rung true of the average American worker of the last few decades. Not being compensated equitably takes a toll on the psyche of the toiling stressed-out employee. The surge of the gig economy has lent itself to career-minded workers spreading themselves thin and working extra jobs to make ends meet.

Other stressors include assignments that are unengaging and monotonous, unrealistic expectations, a scarcity of feedback from management, unclear vision of a company’s path, and a lack of resources.

What are some of the ways leadership can reduce stress in the work environment?

An open-door policy with the department heads and leadership positions makes it accessible for those stressed within the company to communicate any concerns, which can lead to more productivity.

Recognizing and celebrating employee’s hard work will boost their confidence and serve as a motivation for all employees to appreciate the winning individual. 

Increased awareness of all employees to the signs of stress can aid in addressing the warnings before they evolve into more substantial issues.

Introducing a flexible work schedule and the option to work from home more often can instill a sense of freedom in employees. Working remote a day or two breaks the workweek routine and can subtly recharge a person’s batteries.

Consider reinvigorating your office’s surroundings. New plants, an accent wall paint job, and if there’s room, an activity space, or “zen room” to allow employees to decompress will make their habitat feel more like home.

Team building social activities will force employees out of their office dynamic and into a more disarming and engaging setting. A memorable outing could bond co-workers in the months that follow.

Encourage exercising the mind, body, and spirit together. Organizing mid-day meditation breaks, yoga sessions, team 5ks, helping the less fortunate in the community, healthy eating rewards programs, improv comedy for business workshops, all of the above emphasize the importance of well -being and will reduce stress.