Posted by WeComply on December 6, 2013

Workplace stress is the number one risk to employee health, according to a survey conducted by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. Stress can significantly affect an individual’s physical health and emotional well-being, harm workplace performance and hamper overall business performance. Yet even though employers understand the connection between stress and productivity, only 15% make improving the emotional/mental health of employees a top priority of their health and productivity programs.

The survey also found that the factors that cause workplace stress are different for employers and employees. Employers reported that the top three causes of workplace stress are negative work/life balance (86%), inadequate staffing (70%) and contact with employees during non-working hours via technology (63%). Employees, in contrast, identified inadequate staffing — insufficient support or uneven workloads and performance within groups — as the top workplace stress factor, followed by low pay or low pay increases and unclear or conflicting job expectations.

While employers viewed work/life balance as the most significant stress factor, employees ranked it fifth. And whereas employees ranked low pay or low pay increases as second among workplace stressors, employers placed it ninth on the list.

The survey suggests that many employers do little more than pay lip service to efforts to help employees cope with workplace stress. The strongest evidence of this is the misplaced reliance employers place on employee assistance programs (EAPs). Most employers (85%) rely on EAPs as the primary way to address stress — even though only 5% of employees take advantage of EAP resources.

The survey recommends that employers respond to these findings with a more holistic approach to employee stress — for example, by expanding EAPs to include employer-sponsored physical activities and stress-management programs.

Employers’ failure to respond in meaningful ways to employee emotional and physical problems wastes resources and alienates employees. WeComply’s course on Managing Workplace Stress addresses this number one risk factor by helping employees recognize the outer and inner sources of job stress and providing strategies to prevent job burnout.

WeComply is a leading provider of customizable online ethics and compliance training solutions, offering more than 100 courses on such topics as anti-corruption, antitrust, Code of Conduct, preventing discrimination and harassment, data privacy and security, insider trading and whistleblowing.