According to the American Institute of Stress, this bane is responsible for 75 to 90% of medical appointments, and 60 to 80% of work accidents. A detailed look at the unknown effects of stress on employees.
If we consider the reasons for sick leave, it is easy to miss the link between stress and absenteeism. A cold or the flu don’t appear to be related to the working world. However, in 2002 stress was already the cause of 50% of absenteeism at work according to the European Commission.
And it’s no coincidence if we feel more vulnerable when we are stressed. This has a considerable impact on the immune system and can indirectly cause the increase of viruses and infections for people who are stressed.
Moreover, in 2002, the American review PNAS published a study which highlighted the effect of stress on the immune system, and in particular, the close link with the hormone cortisol, which increases the body’s level of inflammation as well as its sensitivity to illnesses.
Hyperphagia and hypophagia
Stress causes sufferers to experience a “vicious circle” of chronic malaise. Life habits and lifestyle regress due to a lack of time and energy, as it is often the case with food.
Stress can cause food addictions
A person who is stressed may use food to cope with stress, developing a food addiction. Stress can also act as an appetite suppressant for some people and lead them to lose a dangerous amount of weight on a long-term basis.
It is worth noting that a poor diet can cause a 20% reduction in productivity for companies!
Chronic fatigue and irritability
Small amounts of stress are beneficial and provide the body with the energy necessary to cope with daily difficulties. Nevertheless, if stressful conditions continue for too long, the body becomes exhausted and acute insomnia can worsen the problem.
Chronic fatigue is an overall feeling of exhaustion. It can lead to difficulty concentrating, more frequent mistakes at work, and also cause behavioural changes, such as being more irritable. A person who is stressed and tired will by nature be less patient, easily lose their temper and will be less willing to work in harmony with the others and negatively affect collaborative work dynamics on a daily basis.
Some people who are very sensitive to stress, may overreact to apparently trivial events: a sales call which comes to a sudden end, a meeting which starts late and everything falls apart. In these cases, the brain is unable to assimilate the degree of severity of the events, and thus control its reactions. It then becomes difficult to prioritize tasks, which leads to a reduction in productivity, and further increases stress.
In this case, regularly doing mindfulness meditation can be very helpful for people who are often overwhelmed by the flood of highly intense emotions.
More serious illnesses
In a study carried out by the firm Stimulus, almost a quarter of people interviewed were in a “state of hyperstress”, considered as being “too high and therefore dangerous for their health” by the watchdog.
This is not insignificant as stress generates free radicals which increase oxidative damage leading to the premature ageing and death of cells. When there are too many free radicals, the term oxidative or oxidant stress is used. Today oxidative stress is linked to around a hundred chronic illnesses, starting with cancer, diabetes, cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease, but it can also cause cardiovascular illnesses for some people including heart attacks and ruptured aneurysms.
These are of course the most serious cases and a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet will provide the antioxidants required to avoid these most dramatic scenarios. (Phew!)
The implementation of a global well-being at work solution can make all the difference in the prevention of stress
For all that, it should be underlined that the consequences of stress are numerous and that in some cases they can even be very harmful for your employees, which is why it is important to spot the first signs as soon as possible to prevent its effects.
According to an OpinionWay study, 90% of French people feel stressed and 50% French people feel particularly stressed. 36% of people interviewed blamed their professional life for this stress. The prevention of stress in this context is essential and in particular the setting up of objectives which are achievable and reasonably ambitious, but also a healthy working environment where communication is encouraged.
To curb this problem, the French Ministère des Affaires sociales et de la Santé, (Ministry of Health and Social Services) published a report for company heads in January 2013, which already highlighted the importance of providing an environment which focused on employees’ health through nutrition and physical activity.
The implementation of a corporate catering solution or a global well-being at work solution are efficient measures that can make all the difference in the prevention of stress.