Stress is like air these days. American society has put a premium on productivity for decades and, today, people are paying the price in stress. More and more workers report higher levels of stress and greater frequency of stress as pressure mounts on them to perform in all aspects of their lives.
The workplace has long been a prominent source of stress, but is it the primary stressor in most peoples’ lives? Statistics say yes.
Workplace stress has become an epidemic in the United States, causing lost productivity and spilling out into the workplace and employees’ personal lives. For employers, reducing stress should be a top priority. You may think your business thrives on stress; but as these statistics show, workplace stress is a prevalent, expensive, and unfortunate problem in America.
It’s a slight overstatement to say “everyone is stressed,” but not by much. More than 80% of Americans report being stressed, while 46% of Americans describe work as a major stressor. 
You can view this as the glass is half-full or the glass is half-empty. On one hand, the average American isn’t completely overwhelmed by stress. On the other, most Americans experience at least middling levels of stress at all times. 
A more damning statistic is the fact that one-third of Americans felt compelled to visit the doctor due to stress-related symptoms. 
The most significant price of workplace stress is without a doubt the death toll. Stress can cause high blood pressure, cardiac issues, mental illness, and many more health concerns that can develop into something incurable. 
It’s not as serious as death, but workplace stress also contributes to enormous healthcare costs. This number represents 5-8% of national healthcare spending. Those costs derive primarily from high demands at work ($48 million), lack of insurance ($40 billion), and work-family conflict ($24 billion). 
The 30-49 group — a mix of millennials and Generation X — is the most stressed-out group in the country. However, Americans aged 15-29 are right behind them with 64% reporting stress. Just 44% of people older than 50 report feeling stressed out. 
More distressingly, over half of Generation Z has been diagnosed with mental health issues, suggesting that workplace stress will become an even bigger issue going forward. As the TikTok generation enters the workforce, creating a less stressful and more compassionate workspace will be essential. 
Women are more stressed-out than men. Traditionally, women handle more of the household and childcare duties, contributing to higher stress levels — especially when they’re balancing those life duties with work. 
Stress is so prevalent, that it’s the primary reason one million workers miss work each day. That’s a huge number of people missing work for entirely avoidable reasons. 
Most Americans right now are ready to quit their jobs due to the stress it entails. That doesn’t bode well for employers as good employee retention saves valuable time and money. 
Stressing employees out or mistreating them are great ways to lose them. One study found that nearly half of new hires applied for their new job after one bad workday at their old one. That’s all it takes to make someone think about moving on; and if they get an offer, what’s to keep them from taking it? 
Work-life balance is crucial to building a happy, productive, and stress-free staff. Unfortunately, nearly half of American workers don’t believe their employers care about work-life balance. Instead, they feel their employers only care about profit. 
There’s a disconnect, however, as three-quarters of employers claim stress management is their top priority. Yet, if nearly half of workers feel employers don’t care at all about work-life balance, employers clearly have some work to do. 
Between employees missing work due to being too stressed out or having to go to the doctor, a lack of focus due to being too stressed, and other stress-related issues, companies lose $300 billion every year in productivity. 
Stress comes from many sources, but one of the most basic is simply workload. When companies refuse to hire more employees to take on more work or bosses put unreasonable demands on employees, people get stressed out. 
Where does work come from? Bosses! And it turns out that bosses are stressing people out. 35 percent of Americans say their boss is their primary source of stress, and 80% say a change in leadership directly impacts their stress levels. 
The level of distrust between employees and bosses that the Harvard Business Review found that nearly 60% of American workers feel more comfortable trusting an absolute stranger than their boss. 
Workplace stress spills into most workers’ personal lives. 83 percent of men and 72% of women report that workplace stress has a negative impact on their personal lives, be it in their relationships or mental health. That, in turn, can also lead to less productive, unhappier workers. 
As many Americans are finding firsthand during the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home can alleviate stress. A FlexJobs survey found that 71% of workers feel more productive at home, and most attribute that to the stress relief they get from not commuting. 
The same survey revealed that more than three-quarters of people think they would be happier with a flexible job. That means flexible hours to run errands and deal with personal issues on their own time, as well as a generous paid vacation policy. 
Workplace stress is an American epidemic. The vast majority of American workers report feeling stressed at work, many of whom feel it so frequently and intensely that they’re forced to visit a doctor. The healthcare and productivity costs are enormous, and they pale in comparison to the physical toll that stress takes on workers. Fortunately, there are simple ways to alleviate workplace stress while recapturing productivity. Basically, be more flexible.