Report: Stress Costs Companies 8 Days of Productivity a Month

A new industry report paints a distressing picture of the workplace, with employees spending more than one-third of their time at work being unproductive and averaging one full day off sick per month.

This revelation comes with the release of Workplace Well-being: A Summary of the 2018 Workplace Outcome Suite Annual Report, released in partnership with LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell and the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association. The report is based on data from multiple employee-assistance providers worldwide and over 23,000 employee use cases.

According to the research, employees struggling with mental health or other wellbeing issues are unable to concentrate on their job, aka “presenteeism,” for more than a third of the total scheduled work time (54.95 hours or 34%)—or about eight total days per month. For context, it is more than twice as much as the typical “healthy” employee.

In addition, these employees are also absent from work for an average of 7.36 hours per month — almost one full working day (about 5% of all work time).

The most common clinical issues behind the reduced productivity were related to mental health (i.e., depression, anxiety) or personal stress (combined at 40% of cases), followed by relationship problems of marriage or family life (29% ), work and occupational issues (18%), and alcohol misuse and drug problems (4%).

The report looks at the utilization and effectiveness of employee-assistance programs and found that about eight out of every 10 cases for counseling were self-referrals, with referrals from a family or other source at 7%, supervisor referrals at 5%, and a mandatory referral from HR or the employer at only 2%.

Measured over a three-month period of distress, changes in the outcomes revealed that almost five days of productive work time were restored per case due to the use of EAP counseling. This result was worth an estimated $1,731 per case. With typical annual levels of program use and cost, the return on investment for EAP counseling was estimated at $3.37:1.

“The results of the research demonstrated that there is a good reason for employers to use an EAP to support distressed employees and enhance overall employee wellbeing,” says Barb Veder, vice president and chief clinician at Morneau Shepell. “After use of EAP-provided counseling, problem rates were reduced for every aspect measured in the report where employees need support. Thus, EAPs help to reduce the risks associated with workplace problems.”

Michael J. O'Brienhttp://
Michael J. O’Brien is former web editor with Human Resource Executive®.