InsideOut Development

Stressed Out Employees Are a Big Problem—Here's What You Can Do About It

by Pivot Point


The World Health Organization defines a healthy job as “…likely to be one where the pressures on employees are appropriate in relation to their abilities and resources, to the amount of control they have over their work, and to the support they receive from people who matter to them.”  But according to a recent Gallop poll, 85 percent of people hate their jobs.

Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout Survey reveals that work stress affects them employees personally, they are frequently stressed because of work issues, and they’ve experience burnout more than once. The risks and costs of work-related stress are well-documented.

Why Should Managers Care About Stressed Out Employees?

2015 Columbia University study shows that 18 percent of supervisors and managers report symptoms of depression, with middle managers prone to both depression and anxiety. The authors of the study speculate it’s because although they have higher pay, authority, and better positions, middle managers get “flak from above and below.”  So why should managers care about employee stress when they are busy and stressed themselves?

Workplace stress doesn’t just affect employees.

It impacts business as a whole. Stress causes more missed days, lower productivity, higher turnover, more worker’s compensation claims, and more medical insurance expenses. It can also impact recruiting and employer reputation. Employer review websites like Glassdoor enable current and former employees to publicly and anonymously discuss all aspects of working for a company, good and bad, increasing the potential risk to revenue and reputation.

Stressed employees leave jobs.

Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout Survey found that almost half of millennials have left a job because of burnout. According to research, 61 percent of workers say workplace stress has impacted their personal well-being. It has caused insomnia, depression, and family issues, and even hospitalization. 42 percent of workers say the stress was bad enough to make them leave their jobs. An additional 35 percent say they’ve considered it. Employees noted that their employers do little about stress, with the majority saying their employers do nothing at all about it.

Stressed employees are less productive. 

Research from Willis Towers Watson shows that more than 50 percent of stressed-out employees say they feel less productive and interested at work. Additionally, the work they do will be of lower quality. Stressed out employees are more prone to errors, less focused, and more likely to rush through projects without giving them adequate time and attention.

Stressed employees miss more work.

The negative physical effects of stress can include headaches, depression, risk of heart attack and high blood pressure, and problems sleeping, to name a few. Workplace health and safety figures show more than 15 million working days were lost in 2017-2018 due to work-related stress, up from 12.5 million the previous year.

Core Coaching Characteristics (and Why You Should Care)

How Leader- led Coaching Reduces Employee Stress and Burnout

Leader-led coaching conversations reduce employee stress and burnout by allowing employees to discuss workplace stress, identify problems or projects causing their stress, and develop a plan to resolve them. Coaching efforts improve leadership resilience, help employees focus on problem-solving instead of problems, and support the workforce during organizational change.

Managers can use the following coaching mindsets to prevent or reduce workplace stress before it negatively affects business:

Encourage employee well-being.

A recent Gallup research report found that team members who reported well-being were 20 percent more likely to have a positive effect on other team members within six months. Prioritize well-being activities such as offering personal development tools and consistently encouraging employees to take time for renewal activities like walking meetings and planning buffer time into deliverables so employees have reasonable timeframes to complete regular work responsibilities and projects.

Loosen work ties.

Too much focus on work affects productivity, creativity, and well-being. An ”always on” mentality is a dangerous recipe for workplace stress since it fails to account for recovery time. It’s an unsustainable mindset. Encouraging and modeling that practice disconnecting from work gives employees breathing room and permission to take care of themselves

Ask the right questions.

The Harvard Business Review explains the difference between manager communication and coaching conversations. Managers make decisions, direct work, give instructions, and hold employees accountable. Coaches discuss solutions, ask questions and actively listen to the answers, hold meaningful two way conversations, and instill ownership in their team members. Coaches provide guidance and support, not decisions, answers, and directives.

Support managers as coaches.

Good coaching supports and accelerates employee development and achievement. To be able to coach, managers need to understand the value of coaching, have the skills to coach others, and have the time to put into coaching. Eliminate excuses and resistance to coaching by making coaching employees an expectation and a requirement. Provide managers with coaching training and a secure foundation for coaching. Make sure managers have coaches themselves, and that upper management supports and understands the value of coaching. 

Why it matters

Employee’s workplace stress is clearly increasing, but many are reluctant to ask for help for fear of limiting their professional growth. Proper coaching techniques can reduce stress in the workplace, but more importantly it builds trust between managers and employees to discuss stress levels and it provides managers and employees with the tools they need to manage stress and drive better long-term results.

 Learn more about best practices for coaching in this article by NY Times Bestselling Author Alan Fine.

7 Essential Coaching Behaviors

Category: Conversations Employee Engagement Coaching Leadership Retention New Managers Coaching Culture Listening

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InsideOut Development is the world leader in workplace coaching. Quite simply, we help clients hold the conversations that energize people, motivate action, and lead to better—even incredible—business performance. PivotPoint is the voice of the InsideOut Development blog. We hope you’ll find inspiration to act as a “pivot point” in your trajectory (be it personal or professional) and to fuel your everyday breakthroughs.

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