Key findings from a survey commissioned by Unum in January 2018 among 1,232 U.S. adults included:
• thirty-nine percent of workers 18-34 years old experience stress daily to several times a week.
• older Baby Boomers are the least stressed, with 79 percent of workers 65 and older experiencing stress infrequently or never.
• working women of all ages report more frequent exposure to stress than working men, with 54 percent of women feeling stress daily to weekly compared to 47 percent of men.
The top causes of stress among all age groups include financial stress at 49 percent, home life and family relationships at 43 percent, personal health at 35 percent, job responsibilities at 33 percent and the health of family members at 33 percent.
“Stress impacts worker productivity and can escalate over time to more serious health concerns and absences,” said Greg Breter, senior vice president of benefits at Unum. “While stress may not be reported as the primary cause of absence, it’s often the underlying issue that caused or exacerbated another health condition and slowed down recovery.”
Although most stress originates outside of the workplace, it’s in an employer’s best interest to provide resources that proactively support employees in managing their stress before it escalates and impacts their job. The American Institute of Stress estimates stress costs the U.S. economy more than $300 billion annually in absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, lower productivity, accidents and medical costs.
Stress has physical, behavioral and cognitive side effects. While it can manifest differently from person to person, common signs include a significant change in quality of work, professional demeanor or personality.
The body’s short-term responses to stress include:
• increased heart rate and blood pressure.
• tense muscles, nausea or dry mouth.
• avoidance behavior or lack of participation in group activities.
• reduced reasoning or difficulty making decisions.
• Increased ‘fight or flight’ response or unhelpful or ‘black-or-white’ thinking.
• working longer hours or often late.
The long-term responses include:
• loss of memory, concentration or confidence.
• irritation and anger.
• causing or aggravating of mental health conditions.
• increased risk of chronic high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack.
• tight chest, panic attacks or fainting.
• headaches and back, neck or shoulder problems.
• increased glucose in blood, which leads to blood sugar imbalance or diabetes.
• loss of energy.
For tips on how to manage stress in the workplace, visit workwell.unum.com.