One out of two employers (48%) say they are aware that “long hours” and ” doing more with less” is costing them in stress-related loss of productivity — and only one in twenty bosses (5%) say they are taking remedial action.
That’s one unfortunate bit of data from a talk by Lisa Jordan of Human Solutions, a Human Resources consulting service in Buena Park, CA. Lisa was the guest speaker this week at our local HR luncheon. The data was published in 2008, before the business environment tanked, so my guess is that the amount of stress is higher today.
But, shouldn’t things be getting better? Aren’t we seeing signs of a warming economy?
That’s true in some sectors. Sales are climbing. Managers are allowing themselves to think about growth. But they are scared to death of hiring anyone to help with increased demand. Layoffs are no fun. Managers are holding off as long as possible. They “right-sized” once and would rather not be forced to do it again.
So, we have employees who likely haven’t had raises in a couple of years now being asked to increase their output. Longer hours. Doing more with less. In some places, as few as two people are doing the work of five.
The Watson/Wyatt “Staying at Work Report” says 1 in 2 managers know this, and yet only 1 in 20 is doing anything about it. They’re ignoring the situation at great peril to their own profits. Losing one key employee can cost THREE TIMES his or her salary to replace. And there’s more to it than retention. Stressed out employees are more likely to make mistakes, and they give lousy customer service.
Human Solutions focuses on HR issues related to disabilities and the special stresses they can bring to the workplace, but EVERY worker (and every manager) is susceptible to work-related stress. At the HR luncheon, Human Resource professionals around the room raised their hands and shared a healthy list of activities that can act as stress-relievers. None of which involved extra pay or new hires. Most of the ideas could be implemented at little or no cost. Small things, done with sincerity can make a world of difference.
From my experience, and from research conducted by The Gallup Organization, workers whose bosses find opportunities to play to their strengths are less prone to burn-out, bad service and mistakes.
Action: If you manage or lead a team of workers who are being pushed to the limits by higher demand, look for simple ways to add some margin into their lives at work. Relieving just a small amount of stress for them will pay off in profits for you.