The Importance of Addressing Workplace Stress: Occupational Health and Safety

The Importance of Addressing Workplace Stress: Occupational Health and Safety

By Reed EricksonMay 07, 2021
From juggling projects to navigating conflicts with coworkers and everything in between, work can be a source of a lot of stress in our lives. April is Stress Awareness Month, and according to the American Psychological Association (APA), Americans have many reasons to be stressed about work, including factors related to the pandemic.

Pandemic-Related Job Stress Source

Occupational stress may appear to be a routine and somewhat benign problem, but in reality, it contributes substantially to both economic and health-related burdens for employers. Health problems related to stress add up to employee health expenses that are almost 50 percent greater than those of unstressed employees, totaling more than $300 billion worth of losses from health costs, absenteeism and poor job performance. Such costs are incurred as employees may experience stress-induced health concerns or resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with their stress. During 2021, for example, nearly 75 percent of essential employees reported changes in weight, and 80 percent reported changes in sleep due to increased work stress. About 75 percent of these same employees in the study noted that they wanted more emotional support than they received, suggesting the correlation between unhealthy coping mechanisms and a lack of employer support.

The True Costs of Unaddressed Stress
While stress is impossible to eliminate, managing work stress is a key component to maintaining long-term health. Many workers may have seen significant increases in work-related stress this past year due to shifts in work environment, threatened job security, social changes and demands on essential workers. In its 2020 Stress in America Report, the APA notes that 68 percent of Americans reported that the pandemic negatively affected their jobs. Helping employees learn how to effectively deal with stress, both personally and professionally, can create a more manageable and productive work environment.

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