By Dr Lindsay McMillan

Most people experience workplace stress as a natural symptom of wanting to do their work well. It could be argued that it even has its uses, helping us stay motivated and focussed in the short-term to get that project done or power through the busy season.

However, stress can become a serious problem if it is intense or prolonged. That is why it is so troubling to find that a staggering 73 per cent of workers say they are either extremely or very stressed about work.

This should not be taken lightly; not only is this level of stress negative for your mental health, stressed workers are two and a half times more likely to go home after a day’s work and fire up the job search.

So, why are workers so stressed? According to Reventure’s most recent study, Workplace Wellbeing, employees identified unrealistic workload expectations, low team morale and job insecurity as the top three things hindering workplace wellbeing.

So here are three things to remember about workplace stress and combating it effectively.

1. Employers have the power to make a change

Stress can seem outside your control and subjective, however unrealistic workloads can be a bit more objective. According to 48 per cent of Australian workers, the greatest negative impact on wellbeing in the workplace is unrealistic workloads, so seriously consider whether your employees have too much on their plate.

Have an open and honest conversation in the workplace and remember your employees will most likely avoid telling you that they are overwhelmed, so try re-phrasing your questions and ask them what concerns them the most about their work.

2. Everyone has different motivations

It might be surprising to learn that employees would be willing to forgo perks, promotions and pay for wellbeing, however a quarter of workers said they would sacrifice company perks for wellbeing and one in five would sacrifice a promotion or a pay rise.

It is an important lesson in the fact that employees are not all motivated by the same things. When rewarding employees for a job well done, get their feedback on what is important to them and act accordingly. They may be willing to trade the prospect of a few dollars for being less stressed.

On the other end of the spectrum, consider giving your casual workers more job security after a job well done.

3. Make your support services known

Lastly, it is important to know employees are perceptive to how much their employers consider their wellbeing, only 12 per cent of Australian workers think business decisions are made in the best interest of employee wellbeing.

If your workers are stressed, there needs to be greater communication about the support you provide including Employee Assistance Programs. Workplace wellbeing programs are becoming increasingly important, our research shows it is an important consideration for 42 per cent of workers looking for a new job. So, it is not just a “nice to have” or window-dressing.

A little less stress can go a long way, so make sure you are on the front foot when combating stress.