According to the World Health Organization, “work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope. Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances, but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues, as well as little control over work processes.”
Eustress, as defined by Hans Selye, may actually be positive and lead to motivation and excitement. However, extended periods of stress can cause negative effects, including:
The global economy and modern life trends — global competitiveness, increased multiculturalism, older workers and adult caregiving responsibilities increase stress among employees and affect overall health around the world. In developing countries, where there is often “a lack of awareness of work-related stress and shortage of resources to deal with it,” globalization itself has increased stress due to new systems of work organization and a growing sense of inequality.
To measure employee stress levels, employers incorporate stress questions in their health assessments or employee surveys. Tailor questions to specific work contexts to gain more useful information compared to generic questions. Track sickness absences, staff turnover, performance levels, accidents and mistakes to gauge changes in employee stress levels, particularly after preventive programs are implemented.
Employers who want to learn more about this topic can join us at the 2017 Employers' Forum on Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being in San Francisco, California, January 25-26, 2017.
For more tools and resources on mental health and resilience, Global Business Group on Health members can access the GBGH website.