Employee Stress Levels Remain High, New Study Shows

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report, which analyzes how employees experienced and felt about work and life in the past year, found that employee engagement and wellbeing are at a low while stress is at an all-time high.

The report, which features findings from the largest study of the employee experience, shows that the majority of employees around the world are completely burnt out, disengaged from their work and experiencing a low quality of life.

Employee Stress at an All-Time High

According to Gallup’s report, 44% of employees feel stressed and 40% feel worried on a daily basis. Twenty-one percent of employees even feel anger during their workday, while 23% feel sadness. Feelings of stress, worry, anger and sadness have numerically declined since 2021, but they are still above pre-pandemic levels.

Women feel more work-induced negative emotions than men, as the report shows. Forty-three percent of female employees feel worried on a daily basis at work, compared to 38% of male employees. Women also feel more stress (47%) than men (42%), more anger (22%) than men (20%) and more sadness (24%) than men (22%) during their workday.

While statistics among age groups are relatively similar, employees under the age of 40 experience significantly more stress than their 40 and over counterparts: 47% of the under 40 group and 39% of the 40 and over.

The global rates vary for these negative emotions. Fifty-three percent of employees in Latin America and the Caribbean experience daily work-related worry, as opposed to 41% of employees in the United States and Canada. Fifty-five percent of employees in East Asia experience daily stress (50% in the United States and Canada), 34% experience daily anger in South Asia (18% in the United States and Canada) and 42% experience daily sadness in South Asia (22% in the United States and Canada).

Overall, employees all over the world aren’t happy in their work environments. In a time where the conversation on healthy lifestyles is so prominent, it’s crucial to focus efforts on the common denominator: work.

“Organizations need to be thinking, and acting, more on ‘the whole person,’” said Dan Holden at All Things IC. “With the shift towards more homeworking for many, employees are struggling to segment how they feel outside of work with how they turn up to the workplace. It’s not possible in my view that you can log on or arrive at work and leave everything else behind for the day.”

Employee Engagement and Wellbeing at a Steady Low

As Gallup’s report shows, most employees don’t find their work rewarding and aren’t happy with their lives. A whopping 79% of employees say they aren’t engaged at work, while only 33% claim they are thriving both inside and out of the workplace.

Though the engagement rate is low, women are statistically more engaged at work than men, with women at a 23% engagement rate and men at 20%. Employees in the United States and Canada are also more engaged than employees in other countries, with the United States and Canada 33% engaged and Europe just 14%.

Women also claim to be thriving more in their lives than men: Compared to the global 33% thriving rate, 36% of female employees are fulfilled in their life as opposed to 32% of male employees.

“A huge amount of this comes down to communication,” said James Blair at The Comms Guru. “To be fully engaged and feel a true sense of belonging, employees need to know and understand their employer’s purpose, vision and values. Most of us want to know how our work is of value and how we contribute to our employer’s success. This gives us a sense of purpose, meaning and relevance.”

On a global scale, employees who are 40 years old or older are more engaged (23%) than employees under the age of 40 (20%), but both age groups experience the same quality of life: 33% for each group.

These numbers have remained stable throughout the pandemic. Global engagement and wellbeing have increased one percentage point since 2021 but remain below their pre-pandemic numbers in 2019.

The report shows that 60% of surveyed employees have detached from their work while 19% are completely disengaged — both of which encompass the latest workplace trend, “quiet quitting.”

Possible Causes of High Stress and Low Wellbeing

Disliking your job, or at least not being happy with your work-life balance, is a common theme in the workforce. In popular culture, work is often portrayed as a burden and for many, that portrayal rings true. No matter how passionate you are about your career, work is still work. However, feeling miserable on a daily basis shouldn’t be the norm.

The pandemic has made an obvious contribution to the increase in employee burnout. But pandemic aside, workplace environment and employer-employee dynamics also play huge parts in employee wellbeing.

According to Gallup, the most common contributions to burnout were unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, unclear communication from managers, lack of support from managers and unreasonable time-related pressure.

“Those five causes have one thing in common: your boss,” said Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup. “Get a bad one and you are almost guaranteed to hate your job. A manager’s effect on a workplace is so significant that Gallup can predict 70% of the variance in team engagement just by getting to know the boss.”

Encouraging a Thriving Workplace

Creating a workplace environment that helps diminish an employee’s worry, stress and other negative emotions, thus helping them thrive, helps increase both employee wellbeing and workplace productivity.

“The fix is this simple: better leaders in the workplace,” said Clifton. “Managers need to be better listeners, coaches and collaborators. 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.”

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