How important is it for employees to enjoy their job? Findings from a recent study published in “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements” (Gallup Press, 2010) reveal that employees with high career wellbeing – those who like what they do each day – tend to report better wellbeing in other aspects of their lives from having good health, maintaining strong relationships, managing their finances, to being engaged in the community that they live in.
Importantly, employees who are engaged in their jobs, are not only more likely to report being happy, but are also likely to experience lower levels of stress while at work. The authors observe lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in engaged employees compared to disengaged employees (Rath & Hartner, 2010).
Correspondingly, other studies demonstrate that workplace stress is bad for employees’ health. Exposure to job stress is not only associated with poorer immune system functioning (Nakata, 2012) and absenteeism (Houtman, Kornitzer, de Smet, Koyuncu, de Backer, Pelfrene, Romon et al., 1999), but also fatigue (Ricci, Chee, Lorandeau, & Berger, 2007). And tired employees are certainly not what employers want at their workplace.
Job stress has also been associated with lower levels of productivity through presenteeism – “the problem of workers being on the job, but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning” (Hemp, 2004). In a local study of 636 Singapore employees employed in the civil service, Woo, Yap, Oh, & Long (1999) present the interesting finding that, when stressors are from the physical environment (e.g., too much airconditioning), employees absent themselves from work to seek medical certificates for minor illnesses. In contrast, employees continue working despite minor illnesses when stressors are psychosocial in nature (e.g., work overload).
The results tell us what we already know: Psychosocial stressors have a major impact on job productivity.