BELOW THE SURFACE
5 employee stressors managers might not see
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report, employee stress is now higher than ever. Job stress may account for some of that increase, but employees might also be struggling with stressors that are invisible to their managers.
Help your managers be aware that their teams could be experiencing stress relating to their personal lives that then impacts their engagement at work, as well as their performance. These stress factors can also create inflection points that put employees at risk for leaving the company to take a different job.
Encourage managers to make one-on-one relationships with their employees a priority, and to offer opportunities for employees to talk about their personal lives. Building a strong relationship with each direct report can help support their work performance and career development, and it can also serve as an engagement and retention strategy. Not to mention, supporting them through the ups and downs of their personal lives is just the kind thing to do.
Here are five types of stress that might be floating just under the surface for employees:
“My kid’s going through a tough time.”
They say a parent is only as happy as their least happy child. If an employee has a baby teething, a middle schooler affected by learning issues, a teenager with a drug problem, or any other major concern with one of their kids, it’s probably going to impact their focus on work. Managers can strengthen their relationships with employees and promote their retention by showing compassion and flexibility.
Giving employees a voice
According to the CDC, one in three adults are suffering from sleep deprivation. In addition to the short-term negative effects on attention, memory, decision making, problem-solving and judgement, chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other serious health issues. It also makes people cranky and impatient – and can lead to depression and anxiety.
“My mom can’t live on her own anymore.”
The emotional, financial and logistical needs of aging parents can cause a huge undercurrent of stress for employees. The shifting roles between adult children and elderly parents can create power struggles. Some therapists are reporting a wave of resentment from Gen X clients who feel they were largely left to raise themselves but are now expected to devote time and energy to caring for their parents.
“I worry about money all the time.”
Financial stress affects employees at all levels of the pay scale. Some research reports 52% of employees making over $100,000 experience stress about money, and they bring that stress to work. We now have inflation adding a new theme for financial stress, but we also have the perennial stressors of overspending and debt, as well as milestone-related financial challenges such as a new baby or kids starting college.
“I’m just kind of lonely.”
Reports of loneliness peaked during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, but according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2023 report, 38% of employees still say they’re lonely on the job. This might be a factor of remote work, but it also reflects a societal trend that some are calling an epidemic of loneliness. Employees who report feeling lonely tend to have more sick days and lower productivity.