Workplace stress is the most frequently cited reason U.S. employees consider leaving their jobs, according to a new survey by consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Employees defined their top causes of workplace stress as long hours, work/life balance, technologies that expand availability, and managers’ inability to recognize stress.
More surprisingly, another Watson Wyatt survey found that nearly half of employers (48%) acknowledge that stress caused by overwork is affecting business performance and 32% said that work/life balance issues were taking a toll on the bottom line.
Although companies know that workplace stress is a problem, very few are taking steps to address it. Only 5% said they are taking action to address stress caused by long hours. A more encouraging 16% said they are taking action to relieve stress caused by work/life balance issues.
Those companies that don’t address these issues may find themselves paying the price in health care and retention costs. According to a statement by Shelly Wolf, national practice director of health and productivity at Watson Wyatt: “Too much stress from heavy demands, poorly defined priorities and little on-the-job flexibility can add to health issues. By leaving stress unaddressed, employers invite an increase in unscheduled time off, absence rates and health care costs — all of which hurt a company’s bottom line.”