Why Workplace Stress is a Worldwide Epidemic That Prevents Us From Being Happy at Work

In America, we’re famous for working. Working long days with little time off and taking pride in it. So it should come as no surprise that many of our employees are overworked, stressed out, and burned out. And it’s costing us dearly in terms of lost wages, lost productivity, and lost impact. According to a study from Mental Health America, almost 70% of workers reported missing some days at work each month due to stress. But it turns out that workplace stress isn’t just an American problem: it’s a world problem.

Take this recent article from The Atlantic, which explores stress and depression in the Japanese workplace. While work has grown more global and connected us in ways we could never have imagined, it’s also caused a clash of cultures. And it has forced rapid change on both sides of the generational divide.. Which leaves a generation of workers in Asia who are being forced to assert their opinions and establish themselves as individuals without ever having gained the skills to do so. In essence, they are suffering the “consequences of a nation transitioning from a culture of collectivism, in which they have to accept their rank within a family, to a capitalistic workplace where they have to forge their own path.”

For the last year, I’ve been fortunate to travel to Singapore many times to conduct in-person training workshops for a client. I’ve met many wonderful, talented, and bright Millennials and Gen Z employees over the course of my travels in Singapore. And I’ve also experienced firsthand how the challenges facing the worker of the future don’t just exist inside the bounds of the United States.

Technology is changing absolutely everything about the way we live and work. And one of the primary ways it’s changing the workplace is that it’s putting increasing emphasis on employees as individuals. It’s not enough to follow the rules, blend into the crowd, and get the job done. Now we’re told we need to bring our best selves to work every single day, exceed expectations always, and find ways to stand out from our co-workers. That creates massive amounts of anxiety as we question if we’ll actually be able to keep up with the pace of change, if we’ll have the skills necessary to compete and succeed in the future, and if what we’re doing actually matters anyway.

After training more than 20,000 Millennial and Gen Z employees and their managers around the world, we’ve come up with a 3-hack system employers can use to combat the crushing wave of workplace anxiety:

1. Turn Your Workplace Upside Down

Start anywhere, but principally at the bottom and actually talk to your employees. Find out what they’re struggling with, what they need help with, and come up with a plan to support them as individuals. Remember that one size doesn’t fit all so take the time to talk to each employee one-on-one or at least do a survey. Demonstrate you care by listening and asking great questions.

2. Create Meaningful Work

While all work isn’t necessarily meaningful, make sure your employees understand how their assignments and role fits into the larger picture of the company. Make sure they know why something is being done and what goal is being served. Make sure they stay connected to the vision of where the company is going and the impact you’re having on the world around you. And help them grow – that is meaningful at its core to them.

3. Reskill Your Employees on the Basics/Emotional Intelligence

While we can’t control what the future world of work will look like, make sure you’re providing your employees with opportunities to grow and develop crucial, transferrable skills like emotional intelligence. As technology continues to shift the landscape of our world, we know people are going to matter more than ever. Make sure you’re supporting your employees to become better, more empathetic humans.

To learn more about our 3-hack system to guarantee workplace success, click here to read our recent blog.

As an employer, you’ve got to figure out how to help your employees relieve workplace stress. It costs you too much in terms of lost labor, employee turnover, and poor productivity to continue to allow your employees to fight it out on their own.

Need some help? Reach out to us to schedule an exploratory call with one of our experienced coaches!