According to the American Institute of Stress, the stress in the workplace is responsible for 75 to 90% of medical consultations and 60 to 80% of work-related accidents. According to a study by Value Penguin, 84% of Americans are stressed at least one day of the week, and 15% report saying they feel stressed every day of the week. Professional life is reported as the second highest source of stress in the study. Occupational stress comes with many psychosocial risks, and it is essential for companies to implement preventive strategies through a healthy workspace where communication is privileged. In this article, let's discover the risks and causes of stress at work, as well as 5 effective measures to create a less stressful work environment!
How does work-related stress manifest itself?
If one considers the reasons for sick leave, it is easy to miss the link between stress and absenteeism. A cold or flu may seem to have nothing to do with the business world. Yet, according to the European Commission, stress was already the cause of 50% of workplace absenteeism in 2022. And it is no coincidence that we feel more vulnerable in times of stress, as it has a considerable impact on the immune system. Stress at work can therefore indirectly cause an increase in viruses and infections for those who are subject to it. In 2012, the American journal PNAS published a study demonstrating the effect of stress on the immune system, highlighting a close link with the cortisol hormone, the body's inflammatory response, and susceptibility to disease.
Hyperphagia and hypophagia
Stress at work drives stressed employees into a "vicious circle" of chronic malaise. Due to lack of time and energy, habits and lifestyle deteriorate, as is often the case with food. A person who is under a lot of stress and anxiety may use food to cope with the pressure, developing an unhealthy dependency on their diet. Conversely, work-related stress can also have an appetite suppressant effect on some people and lead to dangerous long-term weight loss. It should be noted that a poor diet can lead to a 66% drop in productivity in companies!
Chronic fatigue and irritability
In small doses, stress is beneficial and provides the body with the energy it needs to cope with daily challenges. However, if a state of work-related stress persists for too long, the body becomes exhausted and repeated sleeplessness can make the problem worse. Chronic fatigue corresponds to general exhaustion (brown out), which leads to concentration difficulties and more frequent mistakes in the workplace. It can also lead to behavioral changes, such as increased irritability. A person who is stressed and tired will naturally have less patience, will lose their temper more easily, and will therefore be less willing to work harmoniously with others, thus damaging the dynamics of daily collaborative work. In this case, regular practice of mindfulness meditation can be very helpful for people who often find themselves overwhelmed by the flow of intense emotions.
More serious illnesses
In a study carried out by Stimulus, a medical practice in France devoted to mental health and stress management at work, nearly a quarter of the people questioned were in a "state of hyper stress", considered by the observatory to be "too high and therefore at risk for their health". This is not insignificant, since excessive stress at work generates free radicals that increase oxidative damage, leading to premature aging and cell death. When there are too many free radicals, the phenomenon is called oxidative or oxidizing stress. This oxidative stress is now linked to hundreds of chronic diseases, starting with cancer, diabetes, cataracts, and Alzheimer's disease. It can also be the cause of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to cardiac arrest or aneurysm rupture in some people. These are of course the most serious cases. Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet can provide the necessary antioxidants to prevent these most dramatic scenarios.
How to prevent work-related stress?
1. Give meaning through positive corporate culture
It's no secret that newcomers to the job market aspire to a life balance that includes personal fulfillment and alignment with their values. It is therefore sometimes necessary to dust off one’s corporate culture as it develops to avoid employee burn-out or bore-out. Indeed, it is essential for companies to position themselves strongly to attract new talent. Anxiety, burn-out, and stress are evils to be eradicated with the help of an empathetic corporate culture. Working in a calming climate promotes positive behavior and significantly reduces stress at work. Build a unique corporate culture that is tailored to your employees!
2. Build team cohesion through sport
Is sport the best ally against stress at work? This is what a French research company Opinion Way revealed in a study: 94% of employees who practice physical and athletic activity at work are satisfied. 89% feel that it improves their well-being and 87% see a positive influence on team spirit and integration. Performance, regularity, and perseverance are essential sporting values in the business world. Getting together around the sport with the help of events and challenges allows you to create bonds between all your employees outside the professional framework. The objective: to get to know each other and trust each other to work better together! There's nothing like organizing personal or collective challenges to strengthen your team and reduce work-related stress.
3. Implement simple measures against stress
It is not enough to have more than one string to your bow, you still need to aim well! In this game, companies should opt for simple measures to tackle employee stress. It is not a question of investing considerable financial and human resources, but rather of finding THE right solution. Why not work with what your employees already use, rather than disrupting their habits with complex and unfamiliar equipment? In the context of sports monitoring, tracking applications on smartphones, connected watches, bracelets, or pedometers can guide them without any usage constraints. This is why the United Heroes solution fits 95% of the daily activity trackers: dashboard, individualized coaching, weekly challenges, and content related to all wellness topics, all with regular updates.
4. Personalise your employees' sports coaching
Every employee is unique. Therefore, personalization is an element to be taken into account when managing stress at work. Not everyone has the same needs or the same physical and intellectual characteristics. One employee may enjoy the elliptical bike, while another may prefer a team sport. It is important to adapt to everyone and to leave no one behind. To do this, it would be wise to offer them personalized advice and content, as well as to monitor their progress instantly. Optimizing well-being at work also requires reliable and individualized advice, whether it be on sleep, diet, sport, or alternative medicine, for example. In this way, the targeted attention you give to each individual will be a token of appreciation. The employee, feeling appreciated, will thus be able to develop in an environment favorable to self-confidence.
5. Organise "wellness" events
Organizing team-building events around the theme of "well-being" will allow you to get out of the professional context and gather around a common value. Some companies even go so far as to offer sessions linked to stress management at work (meditation, relaxation, sophrology, etc.). This is an excellent way to fight burn-out and anxiety! It is good to let go and share moments of togetherness with your team on a regular basis. With less absenteeism and sick leave, you will be able to find real cohesion. In concrete terms, it is advisable to organize weekly challenges with the aim of consolidating mutual support, respect, and communication.
Our United Heroes solution promotes sports with solutions adapted to each company, small or large. Because we believe that in the future, the sport will be essential to prevent psychosocial risks and fight against stress at work. Our goal: a healthy employee in a healthy company!