Employers Can’t Afford to Ignore Workplace Stress

Workplace stress affects the mental health of every person at a company. It may initially show up as irritability, fatigue, and a loss of commitment. If left untreated, stress can greatly impact an employee’s mental and physical health. This, in turn, costs employers by way of higher healthcare costs and lower productivity. Fortunately, employers can help manage workplace stress for relatively little investment. But why should they if stress is an inevitable part of the job?

The Cost of Workplace Stress

“The best answer is that it’s the right thing to do,” says Richard Jones, Chief Clinical Officer of Heritage CARES. Speaking as a part of the Stress Management course on the Youturn education platform, Jones says, “It’s the right thing to do to provide support for people that you care about.” Showing you care about employee health strengthens company culture, helps reduce sick days, and increases retention.

Beyond the basic obligation to care for each other as humans, let’s look at three stats on the financial impact stress has on employers:

  1. Stress accounts for 8% of healthcare costs in the U.S. Left untreated, stress raises the likelihood of developing a serious condition like cancer or heart disease. “Unaddressed stress is associated with 70 different health conditions,” Jones says, “70 of the most expensive, most problematic, most deadly health conditions.”
  2. Lost productivity costs U.S. employers about $500 million annually. Stress can also manifest itself as “generalized incompetence,” which Jones describes in the video below as an inability to focus on work because of the constant presence of stress.
  3. It costs up to 40% of an employee’s base salary to hire a new employee with benefits. As the Great Resignation continues, employers are experiencing record turnover and employees are quitting because of burnout and stress. Replacing employees comes a at a cost – one greater than addressing and treating workplace stress – and stalls a company’s growth.

How Employers Can Help

The cost of untreated stress can be high, but if treated early, “it’s such a small investment in time and money to clean this out,” Jones says. “The payoff for a little bit of upfront work is so huge on the back end.” Here’s how employers can help:

  • Make stress management a part of your corporate culture. Acknowledge and fix any known issues that create stress.
  • Destigmatize topics like stress, burnout, and mental health in the workplace by having open conversations and providing resources to help.
  • Offer training programs to address potential issues before they become a problem. For example, Heritage CARES provides education and peer coaching for issues like stress, anxiety, depression, and substance misuse.