So you think you know why your employees are stressed? Think again. Strolling past a sea of unhappy faces on the way to your office, you may make a mental note to yourself to review your organization’s work/life policies, or perhaps send out another email blast reminding employees of the employee-assistance program. But, according to a major new survey from Towers Watson, you could be focusing your efforts on the wrong areas.
TW’s 2013/2014 Staying@Work Survey, conducted jointly with the National Business Group on Health, finds that employers rank the top three causes of workplace stress as lack of work/life balance, inadequate staffing and technologies that expand the employee availability during nonwork hours. However, employees rank inadequate staffing, low pay or low pay increases, and unclear or conflicting job expectations as, respectively, the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 top causes of workplace stress. The survey also finds that only 15 percent of employers identify lessening the stress and anxiety of their employees as a top priority for health/productivity improvement.
“Employees seem to be saying, ‘Support me, pay me and direct me,’ but employers are focused on other stress factors,” says Shelly Wolff, senior healthcare consultant at Towers Watson. “Employers that fail to understand employees’ views on stress risk diverting time and resources to fixing the wrong problems and, at the same time, alienating employees.”