The alarm goes off. You realize it’s Monday. You remember how much you have to do.
And immediately you feel that knot of stress tighten in your gut.
For most people – entry level employees up through the C-suite – work-related stress sets in from the moment they open their eyes. I know I feel it nearly every day (so much so I devoted an entire post to the psychological strain of being an entrepreneur). So when I learned it was Stress Awareness Month (SAM), I have to admit – I chuckled a bit. I mean, really – who is so sheltered that they’re not even aware of stress?
But, of course, the goal of SAM is to be more than just aware of stress’ existence; it’s to understand the causes and dangers of our modern stress epidemic – and how to beat it.
Common sense (and a ton of research) makes it abundantly clear why work stress is so harmful to individuals and organizations:
- Research cited in this Forbes.com article indicates that workplace stress contributes to at least 120,000 deaths each year and costs up to $190 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs.
- The latest Towers Watson stress survey shows that employers rank stress as the number one workforce risk issue – yet only 15% of them identify improving employees’ emotional and mental health as a top priority of their health and productivity programs. Ultimately, this disconnect alienates employees, increases absences and drives unwanted turnover.
Employees of entrepreneurial organizations are particularly vulnerable to these negative consequences. By their very nature, start-ups create a host of potentially stressful work conditions for employees: