Anxiety and stress, although silent and unseen, can have devastating impacts on the health, safety and productivity of employees in the workplace. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “exposure to stressful working conditions (called job stressors) can have a direct influence on worker safety and health.”
Further, an Eastern Kentucky University study found that as high as 80 percent of workplace accidents are the result of stress-induced issues like distraction. Even the Risk and Insurance newsletter chimes in on an article titled “Rising Workplace Stress Has Big Impact on Comp”, stating that “American workers are reporting higher levels of stress, which contributes to injuries and illness and hinders recovery.”
“American workers are reporting higher levels of stress, which contributes to injuries and illness and hinders recovery.”
Anxiety and stress not only increase workplace injuries, but they also delay recovery from injuries. Accepting this reality leads us to an important question: what are the sources and triggers of workplace stress and anxiety? Essentially, they are the same factors that raise stress levels across society.
For example, in recent years the Covid 19 pandemic, social upheavals, and political divisions led to heightened stress levels in America. This was recently confirmed by the 2020 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA). The poll found that “Americans have been profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic” and other external factors listed in previous years, such as economic downturns, racism, and political conflict.
Americans face elevated levels of disrupted work, education, health care, the economy, and relationships. The APA points out that “these compounding stressors are having real consequences on our minds and bodies.”
"Compounding stressors are having real consequences on our minds and bodies."
Which returns us to the impact of stress and anxiety in the workplace. On any given day, most working Americans spend 50 percent of their waking hours on the job. Since stressors negatively impact minds and bodies, it is no surprise then that workplace performance, injury rates, and injury recoveries suffer when anxiety and stress increase. On this, there is widespread agreement from government regulators, academic studies, and medical associations. The consequences create a significant burden for businesses. They lose revenue when stressed workers perform at lower levels, have accidents, or experience delayed recovery from their injuries. Employees may also be profoundly affected by painful injuries, reduced skills, loss of income, and long-term recovery.
To individual businesses, these may appear as insurmountable challenges. More than 200,000 working Texans are injured on the job annually, at the approximate cost of $2 billion in medical costs and lost-time income benefits. While these costs are paid for by insurance carriers in the workers’ compensation system, employers carry the costs of premiums paid to the carriers.
To this point in the discussion, it may seem that businesses have little control over the social, political, and pandemic disruptions that directly impact their employees and their businesses.
But there is hope.
There are organizations that develop personal and organizational remedies to minimize the negative impacts of external stressors. Their primary mission is to educate both employers and employees about these factors with the aim of increasing employee productivity, promoting workplace safety, and reducing workers’ compensation injuries.
One such organization is the Lighthouse Resource Group, professionals with solid years of experience in human resource and organizational development, performance planning, and workers’ compensation. In addition to helping businesses identify the key drivers behind low performance and high injuries, the Lighthouse Resource Group also design the leadership strategies and coaching systems that lead to safer workplace efficiencies and improved productivity.
In conclusion, while stressors impose costly burdens on businesses and their employees, there are solutions. Organizations such as the Lighthouse Resource Group have the professional expertise and systems ready to help mitigate the consequences of anxiety and stress in the workplace.