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Identifying, Managing and Eliminating Stress in the Workplace

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Identifying, Managing and Eliminating Stress in the Workplace

Stress in the workplace comes at a high price, both to employers and to employees.

According to an article published by Fairleigh Dickinson University, workplace stress costs U.S. employers an estimated $200 billion per year in employee absenteeism, reduced productivity, staff turnover, workers’ compensation, medical insurance and other stress-related expenses.

Stress can lead to heart attacks, strokes and ulcers, among other health conditions. According to the American Institute of Stress, 85 percent of medical conditions are accompanied by stress.

Stress can also impact behaviors that affect workplace effectiveness. In 2008, the American Psychological Association compared behaviors as stress levels increase. As stress levels went up, behaviors worsened. Researchers found that 29 percent of people skipped a meal, 39 percent reported overeating or unhealthy eating and 44 percent reported sleeplessness when their stress levels went up.

There are several outside factors, such as personal financial or family problems, that might influence an employee’s stress level and affect his or her productivity in the workplace, but there are also numerous work-related factors that can induce stress.

In today’s society, we are inundated with information and modern technology means many employees often feel an obligation to constantly remain connected to their work.

Managing stress in the workplace can save both the employer and the employee in medical costs and lost productivity. Below are three suggestions for employers and three suggestions for employees to encourage effective stress management in the workplace:


  1. Set boundaries. According to the Families and Work Institute, 36 percent of salaried employees do not take their full vacation. Encourage employees to use their vacation days and don’t put negative pressure on employees when they put in a request for time off. Additionally, set boundaries about when and how often you contact employees. Do not email or call them during non-business hours, unless in the case of an emergency.
  2. Create a variable work environment. If employees work in cubicles, provide alternative spaces for them to go if they need quiet work time or if they need to meet with a small group of coworkers to collaborate on a project. An open, casual work environment with collaborative workspaces and flexible hours can significantly reduce stress for workers.
  3. Keep open communication with employees. Rather than once-per-year employee performance reviews, keep open communication with employees and offer them regular performance reviews to limit a buildup of stress when review season rolls around.


  1. Advocate for exercise. Encourage employees to take short exercise or stretch breaks. Exercise during the workday can be on an individual basis or a group of coworkers can get together and take a walk around the building or do gentle stretches.
  2. More face-to-face communication. A full email inbox and constant phone calls only adds to stress. Send one less email to coworkers and make one less phone call across the office. Get up from your desk and walk to a coworker’s desk to speak with them instead.
  3. Get more sleep. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, $136 billion is lost in productivity annually due to poor sleep habits. Adults should get seven to eight hours of sleep every night to maximize alertness during the day.

For many of us, stress is a normal part of life. While some stress may not be preventable, much stress is. Finding ways to manage that stress is essential not only for your productivity, but also for your health.

Want to take charge of the stress in your workplace? Learn about Cooper Wellness Strategies and how they can help you and your employer.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.