- Most full-time workers with employer-sponsored healthcare coverage are highly stressed and want treatment, but find that care under their employer's programs isn't always easily available, according to a new survey from Ginger, an on-demand behavioral health provider. The 2019 Workforce Attitudes Towards Behavioral Health Report found that half of the 1,200 employees polled have cried at work because of stress.
- Ginger's report examined workers' stress levels for a 12-month period and found that 83% of workers experienced stress at least once a week. Gen Z, manual workers, low-wage earners and workers from densely-populated areas reported experiencing the highest levels of extreme stress and 81% of workers said that stress negatively affects their work, with symptoms ranging from fatigue and anxiety to physical ailments, causing them to miss work.
- Survey respondents cited cost and privacy of behavioral care as their top concerns. According to the survey, ease of access was the top motivator for those who took advantage of their employers' behavioral health benefits. The survey also showed that 91% of respondents think their employer should be concerned about their emotional well-being, and 85% said access to behavioral health benefits is a major consideration in evaluating new job options.
Stress may be at epidemic levels at work, according to various studies. As many as 94% of US and UK workers reported being stressed out in a 2018 Wrike study; a recent LinkedIn Learning report found that half of the employees polled are stressed, with 70% citing their workload as the cause. High stress may lead to an emotionally and physically debilitated workforce with anxiety, depression or other chronic disorders — one that is often absent, spends more on healthcare and is less productive — that can cost employers billions in productivity a year.
The negative effect of stress on productivity alone is worth noting. According to the Ginger report, half of the respondents reported missing a minimum of one workday out of a 12-month period because of stress. And Gen Z and millennials — who account for the bulk of the new workforce — are more likely to call out sick multiple times a year.
Accessibility to behavioral healthcare is critical. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide services workers can readily tap into for help, though some report a stigma surrounding their use. Recent studies note, however, that EAPs are generally successful in improving the lives of workers who use them if those workers know they are available. Wellness programs, which once focused exclusively on physical well-being, have since expanded to include mental health services, stress management programs and financial wellbeing, since money problems are a major source of stress for employees.
HR can train managers to recognize possible signs of stress, offer flexible work schedules, encourage employees to take their allotted time off, unplug from work during nonwork hours and have managers review workloads as possible causes of stress.