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April 24, 2003
Survey: Elevated Stress Levels Lead to 'Presenteeism'
High levels of stress are leading to employee burnout, according to a survey by a provider of employee-assistance programs.

"Employee stress levels have spiked due to the war, which was to be expected," says Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. "What is surprising, however, is the level of near-burnout we found in survey responses. More than 62 percent of employees are concerned with simply 'getting by' and accomplishing only basic tasks, while 26 percent consider being present at work the most important objective. This phenomenon of 'presenteeism' - being present at work when too distracted, tired or ill - can be triggered by high stress levels and can have a significant impact upon productivity and a company's bottom line.

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ComPsych's survey results:

Stress Levels

  • 48 percent have high levels of stress, with extreme fatigue/feeling out of control
  • 38 percent have constant but manageable stress levels
  • 14 percent have lower stress levels

Causes of Stress

  • 41 percent cite workload
  • 31 percent cite people issues
  • 28 percent cite juggling work and personal life

Impact of Stress Upon Daily Productivity

  • 49 percent lose 1 hour or more per day in productivity due to stress
  • 15 percent lose 15 min. per day in productivity due to stress
  • 36 percent report productivity is unaffected by stress

Impact of Stress Upon Attendance

  • 40 percent miss 1 to 2 days per year due to stress
  • 37 percent miss 3 to 6 days per year due to stress
  • 23 percent miss more than 6 days per year due to stress

Impact of Stress Upon Effectiveness

  • 44 percent come to work 1 to 4 days per year when too stressed to be effective
  • 19 percent come to work more than 6 days per year when too stressed to be effective
  • 37 percent say stress does not impact effectiveness

Coping Strategies for Stress

  • 68 percent take frequent "stress breaks" at work to talk with others
  • 23 percent work harder
  • 9 percent take a day off
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