Employee Stress Can Cost Companies Billions


Many employers will assume poor results, absenteeism and missed deadlines are indicators that an employee isn't right for the job or is a bad fit for the company. While it's challenging to diagnose the cause of performance issues, it's critical for employers to consider a factor that has, until recently, been overlooked: employee wellbeing.

The concerns and stress that employees are bringing with them to the workplace could be affecting their overall morale and productivity.

This year, Colonial Life released survey results that analyzed 1,506 U.S. consumers working full-time January 29 to February 1 that revealed:

•  More than 70 percent of employees spend valuable work time worrying
•  More than 20 percent of full-time workers responded that they spend more than five hours thinking about what makes them stressed
•  An additional 50 percent  said they lost at least an hour of work per week due to stress

These results helped us conclude that with 128.5 million full-time employees earning an average of $21 per hour (numbers taken from the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics), it totals to billions of dollars spent on employees who are unproductive or disengaged.

If you're alarmed by a trend of behavioral and staffing issues, you need to look beyond the performance and see what types of solutions you can provide to refocus and engage your workforce.

So, how are you able to help? Giving everyone a raise or bonus while also trying to manage costs isn't always realistic. 

The good news is that there are cost-effective solutions to help keep your employees well and engaged.

It all starts by you making wellness a priority in the workplace. You could already be aware of employees that are financially struggling or have gotten feedback about employees not understanding their benefits. If that's the case, there should be a shift in focus to ensure your employees have the resources they need to be financially well.

Next, you should consider what educational resources you have. To set your employees up for success, there must be communication to help bridge the gap between their wellness needs and your expectations. This can be accomplished with an anonymous survey or the establishment of an employee committee. The goal is to open a communication channel in order to improve overall financial wellness. 

If you already have a benefits provider, you can reach out to them and request an assessment of your current benefits offerings. They can help you identify any gaps that your current coverage creates. They should be able to provide you with personalized benefits options, which could even include non-traditional programs such as telemedicine, that can support your employees' wellness while adding little to no cost to your plan. In fact, many voluntary benefits are paid for directly by employees.

Implementing benefit counseling sessions can also help ensure your employees are making the most of their current benefits and guide them to what best addresses their stressors. A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers explains, “When it comes to getting help with personal finances: 54% say, ‘I want to make my own decisions, but want someone to validate that decisions.” 

The next time you notice a team member becoming disengaged at work, consider that it may not be a simple performance issue. Provide them with resources to address their personal needs, and partner with a benefits specialist who can help you steer them in the right direction. You'll be helping your business and setting your employees up for success.

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