The Costs of Stress

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Stress gets to everyone to some degree, affecting both quality of life and work performance. While much of the stress people experience is work-related, a lot of it comes from their personal lives as well, including their health, relationships and finances. So, how much are you paying for the stress of your workforce? Since stress costs U.S. businesses over $300 billion per year, the answer is: probably more than you think.

But its effects can be difficult to measure-- have you ever seen a monthly P&L statement with “stress” as one of the line items? Stress is an internal response and hard to quantify, so it can also be tricky to know which costs are stress-related.

To gain a clearer picture, we can separate the costs of stress into two main categories: absenteeism (when an employee is not present) and presenteeism (when an employee is present but not productive).

Absenteeism is the more visible of the two. When a worker isn’t there, particularly when the absence is unscheduled, it’s very noticeable. As a result, either someone gets called in to fill the shift, the workload gets spread around, or tasks and appointments get put off until another day. Each of these solutions comes with a cost, contributing to a total cost of absenteeism that is anywhere between $1600 and $3600 per employee per year. How much of this is due to stress? Well, most of it. Many doctors state that 60-90% of their patient visits are stress related, so it’s pretty safe to say that stress has a similar role in absenteeism.

But an even bigger burden on the bottom line is presenteeism, when an employee is present at work but distracted, checked out, slow, off task, or otherwise unproductive. When stress shows up as depression, anxiety, tension headaches, brain fog, lack of motivation, rigidity or disorganization, it usually leads to reductions in productivity. But presenteeism related to stress can be very difficult to identify, in part because it is often overshadowed by its fruits, such as missed deadlines, unmet quotas, resistance to change, interpersonal conflict, tardiness, goofing off, mistakes, and even illness.

The same factors that make presenteeism tricky to identify also make it a challenge to quantify. But there is a common theme in all our research: presenteeism affects the bottom line significantly more than absenteeism--up to 10 times more!

Since stress seems to be responsible for much of the problem, then the easy, logical solution should be to reduce people’s stress. But how to do that has not been so easy to determine. Only so much can be taken off an employee’s plate, and stress management only goes so far. What we really need is increased stress immunity.

Investing in a targeted program like the Stress Immunity Reboot can help reduce the costs of absenteeism and presenteeism. It does this by getting to the root of stress and increasing people’s baseline capacity to handle life. Follow the link to boost stress immunity for yourself or for your business/organization.

Get to the root of your stress with the Stress Immunity Reboot.

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