Workplace Stress: How It Affects Employees & Ways To Help Them Effectively Manage It

workplace stress

Did you know that workplace stress costs US businesses an estimated $300 billion each year in lost productivity? In today’s hypercompetitive landscape, where companies strive for success, the well-being of employees often takes a backseat. However, the truth is that workplace stress not only hampers individual performance but also negatively impacts overall organizational outcomes. In this blog, we’ll explore the impact of stress in the workplace and how to effectively manage it to unlock the key to a healthier, more engaged workforce and achieve long-term organizational success. Let’s go!

What Is Workplace Stress?

What Is Workplace StressWorkplace stress refers to the physical, mental, and emotional strain experienced by employees in response to job-related pressures and demands. It is a common phenomenon that arises from various factors, including high workloads, tight deadlines, excessive responsibilities, conflicts with colleagues or superiors, and a lack of control over one’s work environment.

While some levels of stress can be motivating and enhance performance, chronic or excessive stress can have detrimental effects on individuals and organizations. It’s important to note that workplace stress doesn’t only impact individuals; it also has a significant impact on the overall functioning and success of an organization. When employees are stressed, their engagement and job satisfaction diminish, leading to lower productivity levels, reduced creativity, and compromised decision-making abilities.

Eye Opening Statistics Related To Stress At Workplace

  • 76% percent of employees report experiencing stress on the job, with work-related pressure being the leading cause.
  • Almost half of employees (48%) cite heavy workloads as their primary source of stress, followed by a lack of work-life balance (38%) and unrealistic job expectations (30%).
  • 65% of employees believe that their workplace stress levels have increased over the past five years.
  • US companies suffer around $125 billion due to health-related productivity loss associated with employees experiencing high levels of stress.
  • Nearly 45% of the employees report that inadequate resources and support from their employers contribute significantly to their workplace stress
  • More than half (56%)of employees who feel stressed at work say that it negatively impacts their job performance
  • 30% of employees have considered leaving their jobs due to work-related stress
  • 25% of employees admit to taking a mental health day off work due to stress, burnout, or other related issues
  • 80% of employees believe that employers have a responsibility to support their mental health and well-being in the workplace

Common Signs & Symptoms of Stress

Common Signs & Symptoms of StressStress in the workplace can stem from various sources, and it’s crucial for employers and HR professionals to be able to identify the triggers and signs of stress in their employees. By recognizing these indicators, they can take proactive steps to address the underlying causes and implement appropriate support mechanisms. So, here are some common signs and symptoms of stress:

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of workplace stress may include:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Stomach problems, such as nausea or diarrhea
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Sweating or cold clammy hands
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Weakened immune system, leading to frequent colds or infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Skin problems, such as eczema or acne
  • Sexual dysfunction, such as decreased libido
  • Chronic pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.

It is important to note that physical symptoms of stress at the workplace can also be caused by other medical conditions, and it is always a good idea to seek medical advice if symptoms persist or worsen.

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional symptoms of workplace stress may include:

  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Irritability or anger
  • Depression or sadness
  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Frustration or irritability
  • Reduced self-esteem or confidence
  • Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
  • Guilt or shame
  • Mood swings or emotional instability
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Feeling disconnected or detached from work or colleagues
  • Increased sensitivity to criticism or feedback
  • Avoidance of work-related tasks or situations
  • Reduced interest in hobbies or activities outside of work.

It is important to recognize these emotional symptoms and seek help or support from colleagues, friends, or mental health professionals if necessary. Ignoring the emotional symptoms of workplace stress can lead to more serious mental health problems such as anxiety disorders or depression.

Behavioral Symptoms 

Behavioral symptoms of workplace stress may include:

  • Increased absenteeism or tardiness
  • Reduced productivity or work quality
  • Increased reliance on caffeine, alcohol, or drugs
  • Withdrawal from social interactions with colleagues
  • Poor communication or conflict with colleagues or supervisors
  • Procrastination or avoidance of work-related tasks
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Aggression or irritability with colleagues or clients
  • Poor time management or difficulty prioritizing tasks
  • Decreased interest in work-related tasks or responsibilities
  • Making more mistakes or errors than usual.

It is important to recognize these behavioral symptoms of workplace stress and take appropriate action, such as seeking support from colleagues, taking a break, or seeking help from a mental health professional. Left unaddressed, behavioral symptoms can lead to more serious problems, such as poor work performance or disciplinary action.

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms of workplace stress may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on work-related tasks
  • Forgetfulness or memory problems
  • Decreased creativity or problem-solving ability
  • Negative or distorted thinking patterns, such as catastrophizing or black-and-white thinking
  • Increased indecisiveness or second-guessing decisions
  • Reduced attention to detail or accuracy in work-related tasks
  • Racing thoughts or difficulty slowing down mentally
  • Feeling mentally exhausted or burned out
  • Difficulty learning or processing new information.

It is important to recognize these cognitive symptoms of workplace stress and take appropriate action, such as taking breaks, seeking support from colleagues, or seeking help from a mental health professional. Left unaddressed, cognitive symptoms can lead to more serious problems, such as poor work performance or increased risk of accidents or mistakes.

Interpersonal Symptoms

Interpersonal symptoms of workplace stress may include:

  • Difficulty communicating effectively with colleagues or supervisors
  • Decreased empathy or understanding toward others
  • Reduced ability to work collaboratively or as part of a team
  • Strained relationships or conflicts with colleagues or supervisors
  • Increased irritability or sensitivity to criticism from others
  • Reduced ability to manage or resolve conflicts with others
  • Feeling isolated or disconnected from colleagues or the workplace culture
  • Reduced ability to adapt to changes or new situations in the workplace
  • Reduced ability to manage workload or prioritize tasks in a team setting.

If these symptoms persist over time, they can lead to more serious health problems such as hypertension, heart disease, and depression. It is important to recognize the signs of workplace stress and take steps to manage it before it becomes a serious issue.

Top 10 Causes of Stress at Work

Causes of Stress at Work

  • Heavy Workload: Excessive work demands, unrealistic expectations, and consistently tight deadlines can overwhelm employees and contribute to high levels of stress.
  • Lack of Job Security: Uncertainty about job stability, fear of layoffs or reorganization, and an unstable work environment can significantly impact employees’ stress levels.
  • Poor Work-Life Balance: Struggling to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life can lead to chronic stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Inadequate Resources: Insufficient resources, such as limited staffing, outdated equipment, or inadequate training, can hinder employees’ ability to perform their tasks efficiently and increase stress levels.
  • Lack of Control: Employees who feel they have little control over their work, decision-making processes, or the ability to influence outcomes may experience heightened stress.
  • Job Demands and Pressures: High-pressure work environments, intense competition, and the constant need to meet targets or quotas can contribute to stress levels.
  • Poor Managerial Support: Lack of support from supervisors, ineffective communication, micromanagement, or a lack of recognition and feedback can contribute to employee stress.
  • Unclear Expectations: Employees may experience stress when expectations regarding their roles, responsibilities, or performance standards are ambiguous or constantly changing.
  • Interpersonal Conflict: Conflicts with colleagues, difficult relationships with supervisors or subordinates, and a toxic work culture can significantly impact stress levels.
  • Lack of Career Growth Opportunities: Limited opportunities for professional growth, a lack of advancement prospects, or feeling stuck in a stagnant position can contribute to stress and dissatisfaction at work.

How It Impacts Employee Performance and Organizations

impact of stress on employees and organizationWorkplace stress has a profound impact on both individual employees and organizations as a whole. Here’s how workplace stress can impact employee performance and organizations:

  • Decreased Productivity: High levels of stress can impair an employee’s ability to concentrate, make decisions, and stay focused, resulting in reduced productivity and efficiency.
  • Increased Errors: Stress can lead to cognitive difficulties, such as memory problems and decreased attention to detail, increasing the likelihood of errors and mistakes in work.
  • Lower Job Satisfaction: Employees experiencing stress are more likely to feel dissatisfied with their work, leading to decreased motivation, disengagement, and a decline in overall job satisfaction.
  • Absenteeism and Presenteeism: Stressed employees may take more sick leaves or experience “presenteeism,” where they are physically present but unable to perform at their best due to stress-related issues.
  • Higher Turnover Rates: Workplace stress can contribute to higher employee turnover as individuals seek less stressful work environments, impacting team dynamics, institutional knowledge, and overall productivity.
  • Increased Healthcare Costs: Stress-related health issues, such as cardiovascular problems, chronic conditions, and mental health disorders, can result in increased healthcare expenses for both employees and organizations.
  • Negative Work Culture: A workplace with high levels of stress can foster a negative work culture characterized by low morale, conflicts, and strained relationships among employees.
  • Diminished Innovation and Creativity: Stress inhibits employees’ ability to think creatively and contribute innovative ideas, limiting the organization’s potential for growth and adaptation.
  • Heightened Employee Turnover: Organizations that fail to address workplace stress may experience higher employee turnover rates, incurring costs associated with recruitment, training, and lost expertise.
  • Reputation and Employer Branding: A stressful work environment can harm an organization’s reputation, making it challenging to attract and retain top talent and negatively impacting employer branding.

How HRs Can Support Their Employees To Manage Stress

Practical Approaches For Employers To Make A Stress-Free Workplace

Practical Approaches To Make A Stress-Free WorkplaceAddressing workplace stress requires proactive efforts from employers to create a supportive work environment that promotes employee well-being. Here are some practical approaches employers can adopt to support their employees in combatting stress:

  • Encourage work-life balance
  • Support flexible work hours, remote work options, and paid time off
  • Foster open and transparent communication channels
  • Conduct stress management workshops
  • Initiate wellness programs such as yoga or mindfulness sessions
  • Promote a supportive work environment
  • Encourage employees to take regular breaks
  • Encourage short walks, quiet areas for relaxation
  • Regularly recognize and appreciate employees’ contributions and achievements
  • Encourage managers and leaders to role model healthy behaviors and stress management techniques

By implementing these practical approaches, employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and create a work environment that supports stress management. These efforts not only benefit individual employees but also contribute to increased productivity, improved job satisfaction, and overall organizational success.


Workplace stress is a pervasive issue that affects both employees and organizations, with significant implications for productivity, employee well-being, and organizational success. By implementing practical approaches to support employees in combating stress, employers can create a work environment that fosters well-being and promotes optimal performance.

Therefore, by investing in stress management initiatives, you can create a positive, resilient work environment where employees can thrive, resulting in a happier and more productive workforce.

Employee wellness programs are the key to improving employee motivation, productivity, and retention. At MantraCare, we have a team of health experts, counselors, and coaches who serve corporate employees with 10+ well-being programs including EAP, Employee Diabetes Reversal, Corporate MSK, Employee Fitness, Corporate Yoga, and Employee Meditation.

Scroll to Top