What is the cost of stress in the workplace?

There is no simple answer.

Almost 30 years ago, researchers estimated that stress cost the US economy more than $300bn/year. In the interim, work became a 24/7 job which is always-connected and always-on, for most levels of the corporate structure. The 9-5 workday of the 1950's has fallen by the wayside. Business has become global, with employees operating in every time zone, introducing new challenges like middle-of-the-night conference calls, increased travel, and last-minute deadlines.

There are multiple factors that go into calculating the cost of stress, not to mention the anxiety and depression onset by work. In order to truly understand the number, we have to first look at how stress affects the workplace. You have absenteeism, presenteeism, burnout, employee turnover, decreased productivity, increased health costs and other factors. All these factors look at the employee themselves, not necessarily the cost of the effect that a stressed, burnt-out or "present" employee has on their coworkers.

In 2003, a survey of 29,000 people showed that presenteeism itself is said to cost $150bn/year, a number which wasn't incorporated in the original $300bn figure, and also which doesn't take into account the rise in stress and depression over the past decade. Studies even show that presenteeism productivity loss due to depression and pain is three times greater than absenteeism productivity loss for the same thing.

Stress causes many people to binge drink or eat, as a form of self-medication to deal. These are only symptoms, but the results of the symptoms are chronic problems which will cost the company even more in healthcare.

Even the Harvard Business School article citing the survey above questions the validity of surveys. There was no hard data to see. Presenteeism could be massive financial suck or may not waste hundreds of billions across the United States, but at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. How much does it waste in your company? What is the total cost of stress in your workplace?

If you cannot measure that, then you should chat with us. Quantified Mood is designed to lower than cost by having happier and healthier employees and minimize presenteeism in the workplace. 

homeEzra Butler