Stress is an unfortunately-all-too-common emotion for many people. Daily life and responsibilities carry their own stresses, but so can work.
In 2021, according to Gallup, workplace stress across the world rose to the highest it’s been in 12 years. Over two in five respondents (44 percent) said they were stressed “a lot of the day yesterday.” In the U.S., that number was 50 percent. In a report from StrongArm Technologies, 47 percent of respondents, who worked in the construction, manufacturing and warehouse and transport industries, said they were “stressed at their current jobs.”
Is there a role that employers can play to help with employee stress? The answer is a simple yes. Organizations and agencies like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and OSHA provide multiple resources and tips to help employers do just this.
But before that, employers and employees should be familiar with the symptoms of stress. Per the CDC, these include:
- “Feeling irritation, anger, or in denial
- Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
- Lacking motivation
- Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Having trouble sleeping
- Having trouble concentrating”
It’s important to realize that employees “carry an emotional load that is unique to their own circumstances,” OSHA said. The old adage of “leave your personal life at the door” is, and most likely has been, difficult to apply. Oftentimes, workers carry with them the weight of their life outside of work, whether that’s rent or mortgage, health, family or bills. These responsibilities add up and cause additional emotions and stress. As an employer, recognizing this is essential.
Employers can also do something as simple as talking to their employees. Do employees need any adjustments? What sort of assistance or resources could help? This, along with empathy, can be helpful. According to OSHA, “employers can reassure employees they are open and receptive to discussions about employees’ work stress, by creating a safe and trustworthy space.”
Another way to support workers is to offer them resources, like additional paid time off, telecommuting options and flexible hours, allowing workers to take time off if they need and take care of any necessities outside of work (like doctors' appointments). Employers can also offer onsite medical or wellness options, SHRM said, allowing employees to seek any support or help they need in sufficient time. The organization also suggests providing activities, which are a good way to encourage breaks and offer education.
Looking for additional ways and resources to help employees? Visit OSHA’s page on workplace stress.