Workplace stress has a big impact on business operations.

“Workplace stress can result in high absenteeism, high turnover, poor productivity, lower performance levels, decreased motivation, and low morale,” says Alexis Levine, director of product management at MediKeeper. “[It] can also take a toll on the overall health of a population,” she adds, and “long-term stress can contribute to the development of serious and costly health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and depression.”

But there is good news, according to a new report from MediKeeper: There has been a drop in employee-reported stress over the past few years. And, the wellness portal provider notes, wellness programs might have something to do with it.

According to its research, over the course of a three-year period, employees reported lower stress levels. The largest number of respondents (36%) reported, on a scale of 1 to 5, stress levels of “2” in 2016; dropping from a majority (33%) responding with a “3” in 2014.

And, between 2014 and 2016, the percentage of respondents who answered with the lowest stress level (“1”), increased by 58%, according to the report. Conversely, the percentage of respondents who answered with the highest level of stress decreased by 39% over that same period.

MediKeeper says survey respondents — those that reported lower levels of workplace stress — had access to health management tools and worked in a corporate environment that promoted wellness. “While we can’t yet make the assumption that our wellness program is directly resulting in lower levels of stress, it’s safe to say that workplace wellness may be the cause,” MediKeeper surmised in its report.

The survey consisted of more than 3 million respondents that took the MediKeeper Health Risk Assessment in companies across the U.S. ranging in size from small to large.

In addition to reporting stress levels, workers were asked to list some of the leading stress, and topping the list were:

1. Financial worries
2. Concern over family life
3. Feeling overworked
4. Having difficulty sleeping
5. Concern over child’s performance, habits or behavior

In the same three-year period, these chief factors have remained on the top of the list, showing the impact finances and home-life have on the workplace.

David Ashworth, CEO of MediKeeper, says the American Psychological Association’s annual study “Stress in America,” which is drawn from the general population, had the same top three stressors as the survey from MediKeeper. “However, the major difference was the rank order of sources of stress. ‘Money’ and ‘family’ stressors lead the way among MediKeeper’s sample, with ‘work’ trailing behind in third.”

Levine offers some steps employers can take to help maintain the downward trend of stress in the workplace. These include:

· Provide comprehensive well-being/wellness programs that include a focus on emotional, physical, intellectual, occupational, social and community wellness.
· Look at the office space; consider changing the lighting or paint colors to create a fresh/more productive environment.
· Allow employees to work remotely on specific days/hours.
· Be transparent regarding the state of the company/share the overall strategy, financials and health of the company.

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