In recognition of National Small Business Week, we’ve put together some tips to help your company grow. Read on to learn how you can make positive steps toward putting your small business in position to thrive.
Work stress shows up across all companies, particularly when employees are faced with a heavy workload, little support, job dissatisfaction and a lack of autonomy. If you see evidence of widespread stress at your business, know that you’re not alone: Based on the American Psychological Association’s annual stress survey, 65 percent of Americans claim that work sits atop the list of stress sources.
You can’t entirely cut out stress across your workforce. In fact, the manner in which employees react to and deal with adversity can show you a great deal about their capabilities. However, if rampant stress issues are left unaddressed, the effects will be detrimental in two main ways: First, your employees’ productivity and health will suffer, and second, the consequences of stress — increased absenteeism, higher turnover, lower quality and quantity of work — will drive down your profits.
It’s clear, then, that you have to be cognizant of stress across your company, because the well-being of your employees and the financial standing of your business are two of your highest priorities.
Health and Productivity Suffer
As mentioned before, some level of work stress is normal, but when that stress is sustained and unmanageable, it will start to interfere with the employees in question — both inside and outside the office. The physical effects of stress can affect all parts of the body, including the musculoskeletal system, respiratory system and cardiovascular system. On an emotional level, stress leads to anxiety, depression and a loss of motivation or focus. All these factors add up to more employees taking time off and seeking medical care. In fact, the Benson-Henry Institute maintains that more than 60 percent of doctor visits in the U.S. are stress-related.
As chronic stress starts to take hold, you’ll see a decrease in performance level that can range from gradual to drastic. Productivity will suffer as a result. The World Health Organization found that 66 percent of surveyed employees say stress makes it difficult to focus. Furthermore, it leads to mistakes, missed deadlines, lateness and trouble getting along with co-workers. It goes without saying that these are bad for business.
Hurting Your Bottom Line
If you’re still not convinced that workplace stress is a major problem, then check out the following figure. The National Institute of Stress found that it costs U.S. businesses more than $300 billion a year in the guise of stress-related “absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity and medical, legal and insurance costs.” This alarming rate should be a wake-up call.
How can top-level employees determine stress levels across a company? Get your workforce’s input. Try using surveys that workers can answer anonymously along with holding focus group meetings and one-on-ones to determine which employees are struggling. Go down the ladder and talk to department heads and team leaders, who will have a closer eye on smaller groups of people.
It’s best, however, to offer your employees ways to lower stress before there’s a clear problem. Make sure that all supervising employees are fostering communication, employee input and team building, and allow for flexibility in time off and scheduling so that people can recharge. In addition, you should implement healthy-living initiatives. The benefits of reducing workplace stress are bountiful. In the long run, your efforts in addressing it will both improve employee health and productivity and boost your business’s bottom line.
Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.