Stressed out employees cost the economy billions

by 27 Nov 2009

Stress levels are rising across the globe, with almost six in 10 workers in key global economies experiencing a rise in workplace stress over the last two years.

Australians, however, have experienced a lower rise in stress, with only 55 per cent of workers reporting that their levels of stress had grown “higher” or “much higher” over the past two years, reveals a recent global survey by Regus. However, stress is still having a huge impact on business. A recent study from Medibank found that workplace stress is costing the Australian economy $14.2 billion a year, and Australian workers miss an average 3.2 working days a year because they are too stressed to function.

“Stress in the workforce can provide companies with real problems: management and work productivity can be seriously impaired, motivation levels may be damaged, and conflict between colleagues can undermine professionalism,” said William Willems, regional vice president, South East Asia, The Regus Group. “With any of these factors in play, companies will see damage to bottom-line commercial and financial results. At a time when firms are fighting to return to significant growth, managing stress becomes a crucial issue.”

According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 per cent of workers said they feel stress on the job, nearly half said they needed help in learning how to manage stress, and 42 per cent said their co-workers needed such help.

“There are a number of effective ways businesses can look to lessen stress, including encouraging Australians to take their well earned leave over the Christmas break, improving workplace culture, offering flexible work hours and allowing them the flexibility to work closer to home,” said Willems.

The report also found that the rise in overall workplace stress was greatest in China (86 per cent) and that employees in larger companies (1000 or more employees) were almost twice as likely to suffer from stress.

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