Stressed-Out Workers are Costing Companies

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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).

Millennials: Generation Rehabilitation

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Historically, therapy has been a taboo subject, which required careful consideration and something to be “wrong” with the person. It seemed like people should only go if they felt like they had some sort of mental illness. Now, therapy seems like a first option for millennials.  They treat it more like an act of self-care than a chore. Society has set such high expectations for millennials, and it causes them immense stress when they can’t meet them. With the creation of therapy apps and online services such as TalkSpace and MyTherapist, millennials find it easier than ever to get the help they need.

The number of students seeking mental-health help increased from 2011 to 2016 at five times the rate of new students starting college, according to a 2017 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University. The stigma which was originally connected to psychotherapy has significantly decreased in the new generation of patients who are looking for treatment. Rather than being embarrassed about receiving mental health help, millennials are embracing it and are even able to casually talk about it with their peers. They are not worried about how many more sessions they will need, but instead are just happy to be able to talk to someone.

This is a complex situation, and the effects of this new approach to therapy have yet to be seen. On the negative side, apps may lead patients to think of therapy as a “quick-fix” rather than a long-term solution. If patients do pursue long-term therapy, it may also lead to dependency. Millennials also have different expectations of therapy, and they want someone to tell them what to do rather than someone to talk to. On the other hand, therapy is a coping mechanism that leans toward positive change. The stigma has been reversed and now patients are proud to be taking care of their mental health and seeking help.

For more on this, visit Peggy Drexler’s essay “Millennials Are the Therapy Generation”, Wall Street Journal, (March 1, 2019).