The real cost of workplace stress

Nov 05, 2015

Some degree of stress in our jobs can often be positive but prolonged stress can increase the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and depression. Taking steps to reduce stress creates a healthier workplace.

Most of us experience some degree of stress in our jobs, and this can often be positive –helping us to meet tight deadlines, deal with busy periods or think on our feet during a presentation. However, as VicHealth’s evidence review Reducing stress in the workplace shows, prolonged stress can increase the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and depression, and unhealthy behaviours like smoking. Identifying and taking steps to reduce and control workplace stress is a key part of creating a healthy workplace. 

As reported in this article a decade-long US study of work culture, work-life balance and health has found that workers in supportive, flexible environments show half the risk of cardiovascular disease, significantly lower levels of stress, higher job satisfaction and better physical and mental health. They sleep and exercise more, they’re more likely to go to a doctor if they’re sick and they spend more time with their children.

Professor of management at Indiana’s Purdue University Ellen Ernst Kossek is quoted in the article that employees ‘burning out’ not only harms the individuals involved, but costs companies.

‘’Employees have much less energy for quality work. There’s a cost to all this stress. You either pay for it with a constant churn of talent, or bad morale, or mistakes. So don’t think it doesn’t cost you money – it does,’’ remarks Ellen.

Creating healthy workplaces not only improves the health of employees but also enhances productivity and reduces absenteeism and staff turnover. The Heads Up website has some simple tips to help cultivate a mentally healthy workplace, including raising awareness of mental health conditions, identifying and managing issues that cause stress, and forging a supportive workplace culture.

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