Employers and Employees Feel Stress Differently

I came upon this infographic today and it really drives home the point I make often: your company will benefit from addressing employee stress. In short, the results of a recent study (illustrated here) show that employers and employees see and feel workplace stress differently.

The findings come from the Staying@Work Survey conducted by Towers Watson. In it, employers identify the top three causes of workforce stress as:

  1.       Lack of work/life balance
  2.       Inadequate staffing
  3.       Expanded technology

Employees don’t see it that way. The three top causes of workforce stress, employees noted, are:

  1.       Inadequate staffing
  2.       Low pay/pay increases
  3.       Unclear job expectations

This difference of opinion is important. If you really want to reduce the stress at your company (and improve side effects like absenteeism and turnover), you have to put yourself in the shoes of your employees. And that means understanding that you see things differently.

The top issue for employees is inadequate staffing. Addressing this problem will force you to consider if you can afford a staff increase. If funding prohibits you from doing so, perhaps you could focus your management on cutting out unnecessary work tasks and duplicate efforts. Time management instruction then steps up as a way to handle a new and reduced set of duties.

Low pay and pay increases were identified as the second most stressful factor for employees. Again, if your budget doesn’t allow an increase in pay, how can you address the financial concerns of your staff? Offering financial planning programs is an excellent way to educate people about money management, budgeting and saving. Sixty-one percent of the employers in this survey report taking steps to provide financial planning information services for employees.

These types of financial classes do not have to break your budget. At Hanscom FCU, we offer this type of program for companies — at no charge. Our Lunch and Learn seminars cover all types of financial issues and have proven to be very popular with employers and employees. And, we bring free lunch! Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch!


The third most identified source of employee stress comes from unclear job expectations. This can be improved by making time to talk to your employees one-on-one to find out what they are working on and what you expect of their efforts. An open line of communication is key to working through stress, and listening is an important part of the conversation.

As this Staying@Work Survey concludes, the most effective steps to reduce workforce stress include listening to your workers to find out how they are coping with stress and how you can help.

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About Author

Maria Porto
Maria Porto

Maria Porto is Hanscom FCU's assistant vice president of partner relations. She may be reached at mporto@hfcu.org.

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