7 simple facts about workplace stress that you did not know before

Workplace Issues
21 Oct 2022

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), workplace stress is “the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities”.

Work-related stress often challenges an employee’s ability to cope with office circumstances. It peaks when he/she feels like there is a hindrance to exercise control over work processes. It may also worsen when employees receive little or no support from co-workers and managers.

We take a look at a few basic facts about work-related stress:

#1. It’s more prevalent than imagined

As per the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Stress in America report, work is a significant source of stress for 58 percent of Americans. In China, an alarming 68 percent employees complained of increased workplace stress in a survey conducted by the Regus Group.

Optum polled over 200,000 employees through an online health risk assessment in 2016. According to its survey results, 46% of the Indian workforce suffers from some or the other form of stress.

#2. Workplace stress hampers productivity

Greater stress at workplace leads to disengaged employees who are likely to be less productive. Several empirical studies have also acknowledged and established the negative link between work-related stress and efficiency of employees.

Apart from hampering productivity, psychological manifestations of workplace stress including depression, anxiety, pessimism etc. can lead to absenteeism which incurs heavy losses on the economy of a country.

#3. Work-related stress comes with a cost

According to APA 2017 findings, employers in the USA lost an estimated $300 billion annually through absenteeism, illness, and productivity resulting from occupational stress. Stress at workplace results in increased spending on healthcare benefits.

Apart from individual expenditure, countries on the whole also incur these healthcare and social security costs. Hence, there is greater need for corporations across the world to rethink how they engage their workforce.

#4. Most stressful jobs and least stressed countries

According to, some of the most stressful jobs in America last year were that of enlisted military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and airline pilots.

Recruitment consultancy Robert Half listed Netherlands and Australia to be the least stressful countries with a maximum number of ‘happy employees’. Among the eight western nations they scaled for work-related stress, France and Germany were rated at the bottom.

#5. Crossing the line

The physiological effects of work-related stress may lead to illnesses such as strokes, backaches, headaches, ulcers and heart disease. The psychological symptoms comprise of heightened anxiety leading to depression.

The worst manifestations may also include breaking down at work, yelling at co-workers or having an urge to beat colleagues.

In Japan, death due to overwork also termed as ‘karoshi’ is a widely documented phenomenon. In Japanese government’s official paper on karoshi, over 45% of Japanese men said they could not sleep at night due to workplace stress. Data released from the Japanese Labour Ministry also showed how karoshi related compensation cases have peaked in the last decade.

#6. Work-related stress does not elude entrepreneurs

In present times, when new age employees are quitting regular work to venture into start-ups of agile nature, it may seem startling that even entrepreneurs experience workplace stress.

However, studies have shown that ‘stress in the workplace is lower than the stress of an entrepreneur or a startup founder’. This shows that an entrepreneur’s well-being can be lower than that of his employee’s counterparts.

#7. Workplace stress: A hidden vice

Work-related stress is a complex process because it is difficult to measure. And this makes it lurk around workspaces like a hidden vice, which cannot be addressed in a structured manner.

Often misplaced work expectations which do not evaluate the strengths and weakness of employees result in momentous occupational stress. Hence, the onus lies on the employers to engage employees in way they can exercise significant control over work-related matters.

Maintaining good working conditions where employees support and value each other can also go a long way in reducing workplace stress.

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