Some workplace stress is inevitable because…people. You likely work with people who are imperfect. We all do. So, let’s agree that there will always be deadlines and challenges with resources or market fluctuations or supply chain issues.

Some stress can actually be good. We may imagine a faster or better way to do something, or be sparked with a new idea.

I know people who always wait until the last minute to create a presentation or whatever. Just thinking about doing that stresses me out, but they seem to love the pressure of a looming deadline.

Given the pandemic and the Great Resignation, companies are understaffed for extended periods of time because they can’t (or won’t) hire replacement workers. One client recently said she’s doing four or five jobs in her organization at this point. She is stretched beyond her breaking point and actually had to wear a heart monitor for a while because she was at risk due to the insane stress she is under on a daily basis.

While backing up what I am seeing with my career transition clients, these statistics stopped me in my tracks: “The trend is echoed in Mercer’s 2021 Health on Demand report. We surveyed more than 14,000 employees across 13 countries, and the results clearly show a devastating wave of mental ill health. Employees are more stressed than ever. Nearly one in five employees (17%) worldwide describes being highly or extremely stressed daily, with employees in the US (25%) and Mexico (24%) reporting being the most stressed. One in five feels more lonely or isolated than before.” [Source: Stress is the real reason behind the Great Resignation]

I wasn’t surprised to see the United States taking the lead. I was surprised to see Mexico coming in right behind us.

What I loved about this article is it called out stress on the job as a separate factor from employee engagement, which is what most articles I have read suggest is the cause for people leaving jobs.

Please note that 20% of people reported feeling more lonely and isolated than before. We are more connected with technology than ever, and yet there is a worldwide crisis of loneliness.

Employers and employees take note: There is a huge health cost associated with loneliness.

A study of 300,000 people found living a longer, happier life isn’t just about diet, exercise, or genetics” was fascinating. Here’s an excerpt: “… a clinical review of nearly 150 studies found that people with strong social ties had a 50 percent better chance of survival, regardless of age, sex, health status, and cause of death, than those with weaker ties. (The conclusion was based on information about more than 300,000 individuals who were followed for an average of 7.5 years.) In fact, according to the researchers, the health risk of having few friends was similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and more dangerous than being obese or not exercising in terms of decreasing your lifespan.”

Over the course of the pandemic we have realized that workers are human and they have messy human lives. It is a false dichotomy to separate the person from the professional, which is how I opened my 2015 TEDx talk.

As we evolve the way we work to work better for us, we need to actively address unnecessary stress in the workplace and do whatever we can to foster connection. If we can do this, workers will have fewer health issues, will be more productive, and will stay in their positions longer.

Addressing the issues of stress and loneliness in the workplace will benefit workers and employers, and our extended communities.


Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash