The Cost of Stress in the Workplace


nxiety is the most common mental health disorder in Australia. “Anxiety in the workplace costs the economy billions,” – ABC News. Anxiety is caused by the ongoing pressure of stress, and if it is not resolved can cause extreme burnout.

The cost of stress in the workplace is real and so are the tangible business outcomes from it. The ongoing effects of increased workplace stress are well-documented paths to destructive business, and they need to be addressed.

It’s not just relaxation and sunny skies in Australia. The reality is that many people are being overworked and undervalued. All businesses need to consider the role stress plays in their workplace, and focus more on building healthy, safe, and productive initiatives to create a more motivated environment. 

Why is it important to manage stress in the workplace? 

Managing stress in the workplace is the key to a successful and long-standing business. Employees will only remain loyal and hard-working if they’re treated with respect. By managing stress in the workplace you are also doing the following:

  1. Increasing productivity
  2. Reducing workplace conflicts
  3. Opening up communication
  4. Providing space for creativity

The less stressed the employees are, the less prone they will be to illness. Less illness therefore means reduced sick leave, and more productivity. With greater job satisfaction comes an increase in work engagement. 

How to spot stress in the workplace? 

Stress in the workplace is common, but often hidden under layers of pretence. Most employees don’t have the opportunity to speak up, and therefore hide behind tired eyes. There are three major points to look at when dealing with stress, which we’ll look at below. These are presenteeism, absenteeism, and turnover.


The Oxford Dictionary describes presenteeism as “the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job.”

With looming deadlines around every corner, it’s common to see both healthy and sick co-workers coming into the office each day. This unspoken culture of overworking oneself, and coming into work in sickness and in health, is leaving a hole in the company wallet and in the economy. Overworked and unhealthy employees are more than likely to underperform and spread illness to colleagues, leading to disengagement, demotivation, and many lost hours of productivity.

In other words, it’s having the opposite effect of what it’s intending to do.

There needs to be a renewed commitment to addressing workplace wellness in Australia, and tackling the pervasive culture of presenteeism should be one of the top priorities. To demand employee presence, over quality of work and life, is detrimental in the long term to both the business and the individual.


While absenteeism might seem like the polar opposite to presenteeism, they are actually two sides of the same coin – both are symptoms of a workforce experiencing a wellness gap.

Both stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism amounts to billions for the economy. Have you spotted absenteeism in “Dave”, who is disengaged, overwhelmed, and more often absent? Perhaps you’ve noticed presenteeism in “Mary”, who’s always around at work, feeling stressed out and concerned about her job security in a kill-or-be-killed competitive culture.

Ultimately, the cost of stress in the workplace goes further than mere dollars. Every company stands to lose immensely in terms of lower productivity, morale and engagement among employees.


When you think of someone leaving the company you think of farewell cards, cake, and promises to keep in touch. Most of the time, that’s not the case. 

However small or large their role in the organisation, the departure of a colleague can disrupt processes, make obsolete many hours of recruitment, onboarding, and training time, and cost the organisation some serious dollars. In fact, the departure of any colleague will average a loss of 2.5 times their full time salary. When you put it like that, it’s a lot of money gone.

While a certain level of turnover is normal at any organisation, high levels of turnover are not. The more staff turnover you see, the more chances are that it’s associated with toxic cultures and workplaces with long hours and few opportunities for growth. 

Equipping your team with wellbeing skills

So, what can we do?

Companies need to provide more than simply a verbal stance. They must show actionable steps into improving their principles and their visions in order to see results. Saying one thing, and doing it, are two different things.

Investing in workplace wellness and employee growth in the long term is testament to your belief in their potential, and further empowering them to go the extra mile. Every business has a company culture whether you want it to or not. What that culture stands for is up to you. Be proactive, and remember that the wellbeing of your staff is the key to a thriving business.

Simply reading this means you’re ready to take your business to the next level. Ask yourself this question: What does wellbeing mean to you and your colleagues within your workplace? We have a short, but powerful, course to help you answer this question more clearly. In this module, you will explore relevant scenarios covering what effects wellbeing, its impacts, support that is needed and strategies to help everyone in your organisation thrive. 

Over decades of a transforming economy, the way we work has undeniably changed, and so have our needs as both employees and individuals. Since the way we work is changing, the way we invest in our team has to change as well. Start investing in your team today, and see the change!

Dec 8, 2022
Learning Culture

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