Management / High-stress workplaces equal lower productivity, say experts

High-stress workplaces equal lower productivity, say experts

Organisations are finding that work cultures focused towards high pressure and competition environments often lead to high staff turnover and ultimately poorer business results.


Firms are realising that developing employees in their jobs and creating a culture which is engaging, inspiring and meaningful is vital when it comes to retaining staff, according to a recent study by Deloitte.

Deloitte’s third annual Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work report showed that 87 per cent of surveyed HR and business leaders found the top issue facing their businesses was lack of employee engagement.

Josh Bersin, principal and founder of HR research firm Bersin by Deloitte, says: “As demand for talent picks up, the balance of power in business is rapidly shifting from the employer to the employee.

“Moreover, workers are becoming more mobile, contingent and autonomous, and, as a result, harder to need to re-imagine the way they manage people and come up with new, out-of-the-box ideas to make themselves relevant.”

According to the report, organisations that created a culture defined by meaningful work, employee engagement, job and organisational fit and strong leadership were outperforming their peers and were likely beat their competition in attracting top talent.

HR and business leaders in the survey also recognised that a general lack of skills were likely to impede business growth. As the economy improves and the market for high-skill talent tightens even further, companies are realising they cannot simply recruit all the talent they need, but must develop it internally.

Among respondents, 85 per cent ranked learning and development as a top issue, compared with 70 per cent last year, making this the third most critical issue in the 2015 survey.

Meanwhile, 80 per cent cited workforce skills as a top issue (up from 75 per cent last year), and 35 per cent rated the lack of skills in HR as a “very important” problem, up from 25 per cent.

Brett Walsh, global human capital practice leader at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, says: “There are significant shifts happening in the global workplace that business must actively manage.

“In addition to workers’ changing expectations from employers, skills needed on the job are changing faster than ever. Organisations are quickly falling behind on developing the right skills across all levels.

“There’s an urgent need for organisations to re-evaluate their learning programs and treat leadership development as a long-term investment, rather than a discretionary training spend item when times are favorable.”

The Deloitte report also showed that companies were struggling to decrease workplace stress, simplify business processes and reduce complexity.

There were 66 per cent of respondents who believed their employees were “overwhelmed” by today’s work environment and 74 per cent cited workplace complexity as a significant problem. Around two thirds of companies said they were updating their engagement and retention strategies.

According to the report, to help improve employee engagement managers should be trained as coaches and mentors rather than evaluators and graders. Research has shown that a person’s best performance comes when they are given meaningful work that leverages their personal strengths and aspirations rather than simply evaluating people against goals.

Analytics were also being increasingly used by companies to help boost employee engagement and increase learning and development. Three quarters or 75 per cent of respondents cited talent analytics as an important issue.

Jason Geller, a principal at Deloitte and national managing director of the US human capital practice, says: “Organisations are already using talent analytics to understand what motivates employees and what makes them stay or leave. These insights help drive increased returns from talent investments, with huge consequences for the business as a whole.”

  • Stress is definitely a contributor to poor productivity. The issue however, seems to be more about how to practically reduce stress in the workplace, and less about identifying that it is an issue.

    There is a really good section in this stress reduction guide that is devoted to workplace stress: – It offer 6 practical tools that employees can choose from to help reduce their daily stress at work.

    I hope this helps!