Even people who enjoy their job experience job stress at some time during their working hours. Everyday work stress can negatively affect employees’ attendance, concentration, health and ability to perform on the job. Because of this, more and more companies are turning to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for help.
What is Job Stress?
Job stress is the chronic state in which demanding conditions in the workplace impact an employee’s performance and well-being in a negative way, and it can cause physical and/or emotional illnesses.
According to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, a majority of Americans consider their jobs to be stressful. Job stress may be caused by one or more of the following:
- Job insecurity
- Extremely long work hours
- Intense pressure to perform at peak levels all the time
- Excessive travel
- Too much time away from family
- Harassment or any other traumatic event
- Office politics
- Conflict with coworker(s)
- Unclear job responsibilities
- Lack of control
In addition, problems in employees’ personal lives can cause significant stress on the job. Financial trouble, marital trouble, grief and other family or personal issues can cause distraction and stress throughout the day, impacting their job performance and health.
The signs of stress will vary depending on the person, situation, duration and intensity of the stressor(s), but typical symptoms include:
- Loss of mental concentration
- Substance abuse
- Extreme anger or frustration
- Family conflict
- Illnesses such as heart disease, migraine headaches, stomach problems and back problems
Research indicates that many medical problems stem from stress. These medical problems are costly to employers, in the form of lost wages, increased medical costs and decreased productivity. In addition, on-the-job accidents occur more frequently to stressed employees. Stress can cause shorter attention spans and fatigue, both of which heighten the risk for workplace injuries. Also, when employees are feeling pressured to complete more work in less time, they’re more likely to take risky shortcuts.
Employee Assistance Programs Can Help
An EAP is an employer-sponsored program that provides employees and their families an opportunity to resolve personal concerns before an issue begins to affect job performance. Employees have access to professional counselors who provide guidance in a safe and confidential atmosphere.
EAPs typically address the following issues:
- Stress about work or job performance
- Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
- Marital or relationship problems
- Child or eldercare concerns
- Financial worries (see How to promote financial wellness in the workplace)
- Mental health problems
- Alcohol/substance abuse
- Interpersonal conflicts
Helping employees alleviate stress can have real benefits for your workplace environment and your business’s bottom line. You gain the advantage of employees who are less likely to suffer from stress-related performance issues, and your staff is able to get the support they need during a variety of personal challenges.
For more information about EAPs, contact Higginbotham’s employee benefit experts.