Companies feel like they are doing as much as they can for their employees by spending more money on health benefits than they do on some of their own products. But they do not realize that the real issue lies with the stress that comes along with the job. Employee stress is usually due to an overwhelming amount of work hours, little to no autonomy over their jobs, and economic instability. These are things that affect people in all careers, whether they are blue- or white-collar jobs. This great amount of stress on the employees is not only affecting their mental health but also the company’s profit. The pressure causes the workers to miss their shifts, and if they do show up, they are unproductive.
According to U.K. government figures, more than half of the country’s working days lost to ill health in 2017-2018 were caused by stress, depression, or anxiety. Jobs expect employees to use their sick days when they are physically ill, but they usually don’t consider mental illnesses as a valid health concern. Companies definitely do not expect that they are at the heart of the issue. The Wall Street Journal says “companies spend $190 billion in excess costs to workplace stress and 120,000 annual deaths—enough to place it sixth amid causes of death in the U.S., ahead of diabetes and kidney disease.” This statement contradicts itself because workers’ jobs are the reason they are stressed out, and it is costing the company whenever employees miss work. Companies are aware that they are losing money to these issues but aren’t doing anything to change it.
What can companies do to avoid these expenses to employees and employers? Companies like Zillow and Patagonia have enhanced their teams’ health and productivity by implementing some direct strategies. These include providing employees with regular, limited work hours, allowing them more control over their jobs, and providing them with more economic security. The solutions to these issues are clear, but it is up to the companies to decide if they want to invest more money on the well-being of their employees.
For more on this, check out Jeffrey Pfeffer’s essay “The Hidden Costs of Stressed-Out Workers”, Wall Street Journal (Feb 28, 2019). https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-hidden-costs-of-stressed-out-workers-11551367913?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1