Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace

What do you feel when you start to think about work?  Are you filled with excitement and thoughts of opportunities, or do you suddenly feel stressed and drained?  If you answered the latter, you’re not alone.  According to an article from Bustle, one in four Americans say that work is a source of anxiety for them.   The American Institute of Stress (AIS) reported that 65% of workers stated that workplace stress has caused difficulties of some kind and 25% of them view work as the number one stressor in their lives.  One study done by the Employers’ Health Coalition found that lost productivity was at least 7.5 times greater than productivity lost from absenteeism.  Presenteeism is when an employee is physically at work, but due to some unaddressed physical or emotional issues, they are distracted to the point of reduced productivity.  This is bad news for both employees and employers.

Here are some more facts about stress and anxiety that you may not have known with some opportunities for how handle it below it:

19 Frightening Workplace Mental Health StatisticsThis infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee engagement platform that helps managers see the ROI of company culture while making employees happier.


While most employees are used to dealing with tension and worry related to work, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are some things that you can do to alleviate some of your stress and increase your health and happiness.

For employees:

  • Exercise before and/or after work
    • Exercise has amazing effects on anxiety and mental health and will also alleviate the physical pains of stress such as headaches, sore necks, and tired backs
  • Breathe
    • Stopping what you’re doing for a minute to just breathe and clear your mind can help you see that whatever you’re going through isn’t the end of the world and you will get past it.  It slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and makes you feel calmer
  • Work on your work/life balance
    • We spend about 60% of our waking hours working.  That leaves about 40% of the day for us to do other things we have to do (such as cooking dinner and driving the kids around), as well as things we want to do.  So many of us spend so much time on the things we have to do, that we get very little to no time at all for things we want to do during the day.  Taking time for yourself will not only make you happier and less stressed, it’ll increase your performance and satisfaction in every other area of your life, as well
  • Delegate
    • Most of us have way more tasks to do in a day than is possible in an 8-hour time span.  Rather than trying to do everything ourselves and stressing out over how much there is to do, delegate whatever tasks you can.  This will give you more time (and mental capacity) to concentrate on the most important items so you can do your best.  For those of you that have your own business and you’re the only employer, hire someone to do the tasks that really aren’t that important – setting up your e-mails lists, posting the blog articles you write, or looking into the best platform for your podcasts

For employers:

  • Survey your employees
    • We read the about facts about stress and anxiety in the workplace, but how does it compare to your company?  The best way to really know where employees are getting bogged down is to ask them.  An anonymous survey will give you the information you need to make changes that will decrease employee stress and increase productivity as well as show them that you care about their well-being and are working to make it better
  • Improve internal processes
    • How many weekly meetings do you have that cover the same topics?  How many documents do employees have to keep up-to-date that have similar information?  Where does an employee go if they have a question on how to do something internally?  Rather than throw more bodies at a bad situation to fix it and move on, spend time analyzing why the situation occurred in the first place and how we can prevent it from happening again.  Having a frequent lessons-learned meeting and making process enhancement from the outcomes of those meetings will ensure that your company is always learning and growing to stay ahead of potential issues that could arise
  • Hire more people
    • More clear and efficient internal processes may not fix all of the issues that arise in your company.  Since most employees feel that they are overworked, you may need to hire another employee, or several of them, to help with the areas where team members are feeling the most stress.  Hiring another person adds another salary, but think of how much money you’re losing in decreased team productivity and morale if you don’t add someone to lighten the load.  Keep in mind that it's not just the quantity of employees you have that you need to take into account, it's also the quality of your employees.  If you hired someone who isn't completing their job requirements, it's probably time for coaching or replacement
  • Put in programs to help
    • There are many, many reasons why employees feel stressed out at work.  Maybe they aren’t sure of the best way to ask for help, maybe they don’t get along with their co-workers, or maybe they don’t want help because they think they’ll look better and move up faster if they do everything themselves but then they get burned out and end up underperforming.  There’s no limit to the number and kinds of programs you can put in place to help your employees with whatever situation they’re in.  Having team building exercises so everyone trusts and understand each other is a great place to start.  I worked at a company one time that made every employee go through a program to change the entire culture of our company and armed everyone with the same language, so we could hold each other accountable for adhering to the culture.  There’s a great program around Energy Leadership that teaches individuals how to recognize and shift their energy so they can get the most out of their work and lives.  I’m a certified Energy Leadership Index – Master Practitioner, so reach out to me if you’re interested in learning about this program

The effects of stress and anxiety can go unnoticed if you don’t pay attention or do an analysis of employee productivity and happiness.  Hopefully, these options provide you with a suitable opportunity for decreasing the apprehension and tension of your team members or yourself.  Call or e-mail me if you would like to discuss the specifics about your company and how we can work together to increase the health of it.

Sources not linked above:

Employers’ Health Coalition, Inc. The Changing Face of U.S. Health Care.Tampa, Fla: Employers’ Health Coalition Inc; 1999.