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Maybe You’re The Problem: How Better Leadership Can Lower Employee Stress Levels


  • 44% of employees stated feeling stressed at work the previous day according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report 
  • “The real fix is this simple: better leaders in the workplace. Managers need to be better listeners, coaches and collaborators,” Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup, wrote in the report. 
  • The report notes that in order to create an environment that actually builds a sustainable workforce, companies “need to think about the whole person, not just the worker.” 

Living through the last few unprecedented years has caused a spike in stress and anxiety for most people. 

Varying factors, from job insecurity to stagnant wages, have left a dark cloud over much of today’s workforce. In fact, a new report shows that employees are becoming increasingly detached from their jobs. 

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, engagement has remained relatively stable, but stress and anxiety have reached record-level highs. 

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Key findings from the report include: 

  • 21% of employees felt engaged at work 
  • 44% of workers stated feeling stressed the previous day 
  • 57% of employees are not engaged and not thriving 
  • South Asia experienced the lowest levels of well-being at 11% 
  • Job opportunity spiked in Canada and the U.S. 

Identifying The Source of Stress 

According to Gallup’s report, despite Canada and the U.S. having some of the highest rates of stress in the world, around half say they are still “living comfortably” with their current income compared to the 22% average worldwide. 

However, employees saw higher levels of worry across Latin America, the Caribbean, South Asia, and many other regions. But why? 

Canada and the U.S. ranked among the top when it came to:

  • Income Confidence 
  • Employee Engagement 
  • Job Opportunities 
  • Wellbeing 

On the other hand, other regions ranked fairly low across these categories.  

For example, just 11% of employees in South Asia said they were thriving — the lowest average in the world — compared to the 30% average worldwide.  

Additionally, just 27% of workers in East Asia said they felt engaged at their jobs compared to the 45% in the Canada and U.S. 

Understanding the factors that led countries to rank higher in terms of overall employee experience can provide a blueprint for areas still struggling to address specific sources of stress sources. 

To identify sources of stress, employers should look at where they are ranking towards the bottom and take notes from regions that are performing better.  

For instance, 55% of workers in Australia and New Zealand said they were living comfortably on their current salary compared to 13% of workers in East Asia. What does this tell us? That workers in Australia and New Zealand have better financial health than those in East Asia. 

Taking these types of insights, leaders can implement policies that address the gaps employee are noting, such as low salaries or limited career advancement opportunities — both of which are critical to a healthy workforce. 

Solutions Start At The Top 

In order to address the disparities between workplace engagement, income, and overall job satisfaction, Gallup suggests that businesses start at the top by improving management.  

“The real fix is this simple: better leaders in the workplace. Managers need to be better listeners, coaches, and collaborators,” Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup, wrote in the report. “Great managers help colleagues learn and grow, recognize their colleagues for doing great work, and make them truly feel cared about. In environments like this, workers thrive.”  

The report notes that in order to create an environment that actually benefits an organization, companies “need to think about the whole person, not just the worker.” 

But this requires more effort from leaders. So, what can they do to make the workplace less, well, miserable for employees?  

  1. Create wellbeing measurements: This may not be measurable by data, but offering workers clear and concise guidelines that address work-related anxiety removes the burden of responsibility off of employees 
  2. Open a line of communication: Doing so makes reporting poor mental health less anxiety-inducing and nurtures a sense of trust between workers and managers 
  3. Offer more than Summer Fridays and free coffee: Providing benefits like access to mental, physical, and financial resources can help alleviate both work-related and home stresses 
  4. Addressing unfair treatment: A Gallup study shows that the biggest source of burnout is feeling unfairly treated at work. Creating an equitable workforce means balancing workloads across teams and setting reasonable deadlines. 

Each of these factors has the ability to be addressed through leader and management decisions — so much so that Gallup can predict 70% of team engagement variances simply by understanding bosses. 

Because each employee has their own unique struggles and expectations, it is more important than ever for employers to understand what stressors are impacting employees at work. 

“Improving life at work isn’t rocket science, but the world is closer to colonizing Mars than it is to fixing the world’s broken workplaces,” said Clifton. 

KYR August / 728x90 Month





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