The cost of stress to your business
Lack of control over tasks and other stressors trigger employee anger or anxiety, followed by their actions. Sometimes, those actions can be constructive, like seeking a tool to cope with the situation, however often they are destructive: flight or fight.
Fleeing work is otherwise called absenteeism and turnover - in the early 2000s, absenteeism affected 10,000 of the Royal Mail’s 170,000 staff, costing around half a billion pounds annually.
Fighting tough leads to even greater costs; increased adrenaline, blood pressure, and heart-rate. Helpful throughout human history to fight wolves and bears, these companions aren’t useful in fighting the boss. Instead they lead to stomach disorders, back pain, musculoskeletal problems, headaches, skin problems, loss of sleep and energy, and emotional distress.
Cost? These work place stressors are recognised today as a key contributor in 75% to 90% of all GP visits. No wonder that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the annual cost of stress at $7.680 per employee.
The bottom line of the costs due to the stress-induced absenteeism, lost productivity and health expenditures have been estimated by two separate studies for U.S. businesses at between $150 billion and $300 billion per year. The costs are proportionally comparable for UK businesses.
All these costs are hidden. For example, absenteeism requires replacement and shows up at the costs of temporary employees; turnover may show up in the headhunting fees.
Studies estimate that replacing an employee costs from 6 to 24 months of salary before she becomes productive, so every new hire is a burden on her colleagues and managers for months before she learns the ropes.
Some stressed-out employees look for any slight ailment to see the doctor and stay at home, however many, though ill, come to work. Presenteeism extols even a bigger cost than absenteeism. Employees come to work but they are 50% productive, prone to mistakes and chronically tired.
There are also costs related to lost opportunities. Think of customers who don’t have their needs followed up by stressed-out employees because they simply don’t care.