Study: Stressed Out Workers Hurt Productivity

April 21, 2003 ( - Workers are so stressed out about everything from their stepped-up workloads to terrorism and other current events that six out of 10 just want to accomplish basic office tasks while a quarter are happy with just showing up.

That was the result of an employee survey by ComPsych, a Chicago EAP and behavioral health company, which found that events of the day – including the still-lagging economy – “have conspired to deliver an enormous blow to worker morale and productivity.”

“What is surprising, however, is the level of near-burnout we found in survey responses. More than 62% of employees are concerned with simply ‘getting by’ and accomplishing only basic tasks, while 26% consider being present at work the most important objective, ” said Richard Chaifetz, ComPsych chairman and CEO. “This phenomenon of ‘presenteeism’ – being present at work when too distracted, tired or ill – can be triggered by high stress levels and can have a significant impact upon productivity and a company’s bottom line.”

According to the company’s latest StressPulse worker poll results:

  • 48% have high levels of stress, with extreme fatigue and feeling out of control
  • 38% have constant but manageable stress levels
  • 14% have lower stress levels.

As for the cause of that burnout, 41% cite workload, a third were stressed by people issues, and 28% had troubles juggling their work and personal lives. Four out of 10 said that stress kept them out of the office one or two days per year, 37% were absent three to six days per year, while 23% missed more than six days due to stress.

Respondents admitted they weren’t always at their peak even when they showed up:

  • 44% come to work one to four days per year when too stressed to be effective
  • 19% come to work more than six days per year when too stressed to be effective
  • 37% say stress does not impact effectiveness.

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