How Stress Negatively Impacts Job Performance
Have you ever been in a sudden, high-stakes situation?
The stress of playing in the fourth quarter of a close game, cramming before a big final or trying not to spin out on an icy road will leave a lasting impression.
Your heart rate sped up, your body went tense to prepare for action and your mind was zoned in.
For however long it took, you were on level 10 until the situation passed and the result was final.
Stress is an incredible motivator.
It makes us react fast and with incredible intensity.
But, we can’t sustain that level of tension.
Stress is hard on the body and mind, leading to a host of problems if you stay in a state of acute stress.
There are a number of ways prolonged stress will impact job performance in a negative way.
Stress can Lead to Cut Corners
When you are feeling rushed and pressures, you might not follow every single step or procedure.
If you get a notice about an account issue, will you click the link or follow protocol to check first?
If you are in a hurry and click the link, you are susceptible to one of the most common phishing scams out there—and the cybercriminals could hack your accounts or load vicious ransomware to your system.
Human error is the leading cause of data breaches.
And, in other situations, stress might lead to cutting corners for machine or tool use that leads to catastrophic accidents in the workplace.
Many of the Top 10 Causes for Workplace Injuries cited by OSHA include corners being cut.
The top three were improper use of scaffolding, lack of hazard communications and fall protection issues (like not cleaning up spills well or using railings).
When there is high stress, there are often corners being cut to make up for the lost time.
Stress Causes Bad Habits
Poor eating, poor sleeping and trying to multi-task are just a few examples of poor habits that can occur with high levels of stress at the workplace.
Sitting at a desk for hours on end is another example of highly unhealthy behavior that could easily become a habit when you have a large load of work to handle.
These bad habits can lead to even lower levels of productivity.
If you are trying to multi-task because of continual requests and interruptions, you are going to be far slower at each task.
Multi-tasking is not faster because your brain cannot juggle more than one task at a time.
In reality, your brain is working on one issue and making a micro-jump to work on the second issue.
While you might not notice the jump, the physical effort required by your brain is real and will cause additional fatigue.
Since you keep jumping back and forth, you are forced to find your place in the task every time, resulting in a much less efficient process than when you work on one sole task at a time without interruption.
Workplace Absences are Higher Due to Stress
An estimated 10 extra sick days are taken every year for each employee under high levels of stress.
People are more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress, like:
- Nausea and GI issues
- Fatigue and burnout
- Hypertension and high blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety
- Lowered immune response leading to illness
- Physical strain (especially in the neck and eyes)
These higher levels of absenteeism lead to an estimated $3.6 million every year for larger companies.
These numbers come from the expense of paying for replacements, lowered productivity and medical support costs.
Understandably, increased absenteeism among health care workers has been increased with COVID-19 stress.
Stress Impacts Sleep
When you are stressed, it may be hard to wind down and go to sleep.
But, lost sleep leads to poor performance, which will create more stress.
This becomes a vicious cycle that is a huge barrier to being an effective employee. In order to be at your best, you will need to be well-rested.