Random cold sweats.
Mini heart attacks every time the phone rings.
A hesitation to even begin tackling a hard project.
An unwillingness to accept roles in anything new or challenging.
Those are just a few of the ways stress manifests itself in your office.
And if you're looking for the biggest threat to employee engagement, don't bother with your competitors, or budgets, or productivity.
A recent Willis Towers Watson survey revealed stress as the top workforce risk, outpacing obesity and even tobacco use.
Stressed employees are less likely to be engaged, more likely to leave, more likely to be distracted from their jobs, more likely to clash with their managers, and more likely to stir up drama.
Whether your workplace is a significant source of that stress or not, it's impacting the performances of the people within. To maintain a healthy, productive balance in the office, you're going to have to find ways to help people manage it.
Where does stress come from?
Before you can help manage stress in your office, it's important to understand where it comes from.
Some will come from outside your office. As much as 75% of the US population is worried about their finances (a number that's closer to 95%, most likely). Or it could be family issues, like a struggling marriage or caring for aging parents.
17 percent of the workforce at any given time is providing care for an aging person and about half of them also have children under 18 at home.
Lurking inside your office is a whole other set of stress factors. 80% of employees are stressed out by work.
According to the Willis Towers Watson survey, employees' top three sources of workplace stress are: lack of support/inadequate staffing, low pay or low increases in pay, and unclear job expectations.
Sounds about right.
But when asked to name their employees' top sources of stress, the employers' top three were a bit different.
They guessed lack of work/life balance to be number one, inadequate staffing two (they got that one right), then technologies that expand availability outside work hours like notebooks and mobile devices.
The final criteria was the lowest ranked by the employees.
It's probably fair to say there's a disconnect in most offices about stress. But there's absolutely a connection. Employees feel like they're being asked to do too much, and/or aren't clear of what success looks like, leading to long hours and worries that spill over into the rest of their lives.
What can you do about it?