According to research by the American Institute of Stress, 40 percent of employees report that their job is very or extremely stressful. In the opinion of experienced psychiatrist Maninder Singh Dhillon D.O., this is much more than a mere workplace performance matter — it is a serious mental health concern, and in some cases, a crisis.
“Work-related stress and anxiety do not remain at work,” commented Maninderpal Singh Dhillon D.O., who currently practices in Michigan. “The ongoing, often relentless pressure negatively impacts every aspect of a worker’s life, including their physical health, their financial well-being, their relationships with family members and friends, and their ability to contribute to their full potential in the community.”
The bad news is that stress and anxiety in the workplace are on the rise. A 2018 survey by Korn Ferry found that two-thirds of employees believe that their stress levels at work are higher today than they were five years ago, and 16 percent said that they were forced to quit their job due to overwhelming stress.
However, the good news is that some enlightened employers have realized that reducing workplace stress is both morally the right thing to do, and strategically the smart thing to do. It is a positive trend that Maninderpal Singh Dhillon D.O., who works with adult patients experiencing a range of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, panic disorders, bipolar disorders, psychosis, PSTD and ADHD, hopes will eventually become the standard norm instead of the notable exception.
To this positive end, Maninder Singh Dhillon highlighted three ways that employers can minimize workplace stress and anxiety:
1. Improve Management Training
In many environments, the number one source of workplace stress and anxiety isn’t overly demanding customers, chronic under-staffing, or excessively aggressive deadlines. Rather, it’s poorly trained (and in some cases, just plain neglectful or nasty) managers who, quite frankly, don’t provide any real management at all — they only enjoy the job title, salary, benefits and other perks. Organizations that invest in quality management training go a long way towards not just alleviating current levels of stress and anxiety, but proactively preventing negative situations and scenarios from emerging.
Managers need to realize that the most important word in the term human resources is human, not resources. This is not just about managers being ethical and considerate to their colleagues; although these qualities are obviously important. It is also about managers knowing how to identify and address workplace stress and anxiety, and for organizations as-a-whole to have programs and processes in place to support employees, such as those that deal with interpersonal conflict.
2. Implement Wellness Programs
Despite significant awareness and acceptance gains in recent years, the fact remains that stress, anxiety, and other debilitating mental health illnesses remain a taboo in many workplaces, with affected workers opting to suffer in silence rather than risk criticism, ridicule, harassment, or recrimination. To counter this perception — and provide help to employees who urgently and often desperately need it — organizations should implement wellness programs such as EAPs that provide confidential access to qualified mental health professionals, and flexible work arrangement that enable employees to achieve more optimal work-life balance.
Commented Maninderpal Singh Dhillon D.O.: “Implementing wellness programs is not just for large enterprises with multi-million dollars HR budgets. It is also essential for small and mid-sized businesses to lean forward and provide options for employees who are suffering from excessive stress and anxiety at work. For example, smaller firms can partner with a local fitness club and offer employees subsidized club memberships.”
3. Provide Financial Training
A survey by Workplace Options found that a staggering 90 percent of workers are worried about their family’s finances. What’s more, research by Salary Finance revealed that worker financial stress costs employers $500 billion annually in lost productivity. Crunch these grizzly numbers, and the message is clear: organizations are very well advised to help their workers boost their financial IQ on everything from monthly budgeting to the do’s and don’ts of debt consolidation.
Today’s employers need to grasp that workers are bringing their personal financial concerns to the workplace, and it is not just significantly diminishing their mental health and causing intense suffering, but it is also adversely affecting their performance at work and their ability to adapt. To address this worsening problem, organizations can provide workers with on-site or online training in financial literacy and establish a network of financial professionals in the community who can provide information and advice.
The Bottom Line
Maninderpal Singh Dhillon D.O. concludes that employers cannot sit back and wait for employees to either fall ill, quit, or engage in conflict with customers and colleagues before they take some ownership of excessive stress levels at work. This is not about pointing fingers or ascribing blame. It is about taking intelligent, targeted, and compassionate action that transforms work from a place that employees dread, into a space where they feel safe and supported. When this happens, the company is successful, the employees are happy, and the customers are satisfied.