Mental health

80% of Workers Report ‘Productivity Stress’ and Low Satisfaction in New Study.

In March of this year, I reported on a survey showing that anxiety is at an all-time high among American workers. A recent analysis from ComPsych analysis—based on a representative sample of more than 300,000 cases in the US—found that anxiety is now the leading cause of American workers, depression, stress emotions, partner/relationship problems, family problems and addiction and grief. among other topics people sought help for.

I recently cited the 2024 results of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual survey showing that US adults are feeling more and more anxious. In 2024, nearly half (43%) of Americans say they feel more anxious than in the previous year, up from 37% in 2023 and 32% in 2022. Globally, the APA survey find that Americans are worried. about current events (70%), the economy (77%), the United States presidential election (73%) and gun violence (69%). Some of the anxiety-provoking issues weighing on American workers are global conflict, racism and political conflict, mass shootings, climate-related disasters and economic instability. I described a simple and effective tool for reducing anxiety in a recent Forbes.com piece.

Some Workers Struggle With ‘Productivity Anxiety’ Every Day

There is now a lot of evidence that “productivity anxiety” – the feeling that you have too much to do – is rampant in the workplace in this country. A Workhuman survey of 1,000 full-time workers found that 61% of US workers say they are good at work, but it comes at a cost. A total of 80% report having “production anxiety” and more than a third have it several times a week.

“Productivity anxiety” is high in Gen Z and 30% struggle with it daily and 58% have it several times a week. Meeting deadlines is the main symptom of having a “good day” (68%), and making mistakes tops the list as a symptom of a “bad day” at work (49%).

I spoke via email with Dr. Meisha-Ann Martin, senior director of people analytics and research at Workhuman. Martin told me that “manufacturing anxiety” is a global phenomenon and that Americans are obsessed with productivity and lifestyle. He agrees that our focus on productivity prioritizes productivity over health, leading to burnout, stress and a poor quality of life. Martin believes the challenge is to find a balance that promotes success and achievement without compromising mental and physical health.

“Spurred on by the technological advances of the 1990s, the culture of chaos has glamorized overwork,” he says, “promoting the idea that endless productivity is a badge of honor that lies at the heart of success and creativity.” “This report teaches employees that in order to achieve their career goals, they must constantly strive to perform better, often at the expense of their own well-being and mental health.”

The spread of jobs also has a big impact on anxiety and productivity, according to Martin. He says: “More than one-third of respondents said they were affected by layoffs or worked for an organization that made jobs last year.” In addition to creating concerns about job security and reducing trust between employees and employers, layoffs can also increase work-related anxiety. Layoffs often shift more responsibilities to remaining employees, increasing stress and pressure to do more work to protect against future layoffs. ”

Cost of Living in American Manufacturing

The American Institute of Stress reports that workplace stress costs US employers more than $300 billion annually in absenteeism, lost productivity, reduced productivity and direct medical costs, law and insurance. Incredibly, the WHO estimates that depression and anxiety cost the world economy $1 trillion annually in lost productivity.

Regarding psychological costs, Martin notes that the relationship between employee health and productivity is complex and multifaceted, adding that “anxiety about productivity” can lead to feeling dissatisfied with progress. -before or overwhelmed by the endless list of things you have to do. fear of failure. He says: “When a person’s desire to achieve a goal is fueled by self-doubt or fear, it can lead to constant mental and physical stress. This pressure not only affects the individual but can permeate the team dynamics and ultimately change the culture of the entire organization. ”

What Employers Should Do to Reduce the Problem

1- Set clear expectations and goals. Martin emphasizes the importance of people leaders setting clear expectations of what “productivity” means within their team and the larger organization. “Work with employees to create realistic goals that align with broader business goals,” he suggests. “Furthermore, prioritize tasks by identifying what is most influential or stressful and ensuring that team members clearly understand these priorities. This approach not only reduces uncertainty but he also improves the attitude and productivity among the team”.

2- Give frequent appreciation and feedback. Martin cites appreciation and feedback as key components to reducing productivity anxiety. “Respondents worldwide indicate that being recognized or awarded for their work, receiving frequent feedback, and clearly understanding their impact on business goals are the most effective ways to reduce production anxiety,” he explains. “Our studies consistently show that employees who are recognized regularly, have lower levels of burnout and higher levels of health. While recognition does not change workload, it reassures people about performance. and it reduces some of the specific areas of productivity anxiety. This promotes a positive work environment where employees feel valued, encouraged and confident in their contributions.”

3- Log in regularly. Martin recommends going beyond the usual annual or quarterly reviews by implementing an ongoing performance management process. “This modern, people-centered approach emphasizes raising, evaluating and improving employee performance through regular reviews, focused on the person and their work,” he insists, commenting that leaders, “Create milestones that follow and celebrate progress. not just the completion of the project. Managers should also be taught how to create a sense of psychological safety where employees can share how they really feel. Creating a workplace where employees feel safe and valued leads to better, more sustainable productivity that benefits everyone. It’s about creating workplaces that puts people’s needs first, aligning them with organizational goals to promote a humane and efficient work culture.

4- Promote rest and relaxation. Martin advises educating employees about the benefits and resources available to them. He concludes: “Encourage the use of paid time off, listen carefully to the challenges employees face in managing their workloads and pay attention to the signs of burnout. Promoting a balance between work and rest is key to keeping employees healthy, productive.”

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