Navigating the Top 5 Stress Factors Impacting Employee Engagement

And how they affect your bottom line


Employee engagement matters: A disengaged workforce impacts productivity, innovation and job satisfaction, ultimately affecting the bottom line. Understanding key stress factors is crucial for enhancing engagement.
Five stress factors: The top five contributors to stress in the workplace and disengagement are workload management, unprepared managers, lack of recognition, insufficient compensation and team conflicts.
Effective counterstrategies: Addressing these stressors with targeted strategies such as effective workload management, managerial training programs, robust recognition systems and conflict resolution trainings can improve overall organizational performance.
stress in the workplace
JAMS Pathways Editors

In today's market, dominated by the preferences and mobility of an empowered workforce, understanding the main causes of stress in the workplace becomes key to maintaining high levels of engagement and productivity. A recent study by Gallup found that only 23% of the world’s workers are engaged, meaning a staggering three-quarters of workers aren't performing at their best due to various reasons. This disengagement has significant implications on productivity, innovation, job satisfaction and, ultimately, the company’s bottom line.

Here we discuss five major stress factors causing employee disengagement in today’s work environment, and why having some of these counterstrategies in place can be one of the most cost-effective decisions for any business to make.

1. Workload management

Overburdened employees are more likely to experience burnout, which leads to lower productivity. Unreasonable deadlines or an excessive workload can make them feel overwhelmed at work as well as undervalued—both key contributors to disengagement.

Advanced strategy: It all starts with middle management having the right culture and involvement. Some managers might not check in enough to know a team member is struggling, often not empowering the team to reach out on the matter, downplaying the problem to avoid it. An effective strategy is to coach your managers on delegation skills and on how to implement effective workload management strategies, such as prioritizing the team’s tasks based on urgency and importance. Offer training and support groups, as well as clear guidance on the organization’s approach to the subject. Hosting companywide workshops on how to reduce stress in the workplace is a best practice, empowering individuals to be more efficient and, if necessary, advocate for themselves within specific channels in the organization. Consider offering flexible work schedules where possible.

2. Unprepared managers

Poor leadership is one of the most significant causes of work anxiety and stress in the workplace. Employees often leave managers rather than companies. If a manager lacks essential skills like empathy, communication and the ability to resolve conflicts, they may unintentionally contribute to stressful situations.

Advanced strategy: Invest in managerial training programs that focus on developing interpersonal skills along with strategic ones; creating a feedback loop between staff members and managers can also help identify areas for improvement early on.

3. Lack of recognition

Employee recognition plays an indispensable role in keeping motivation levels high. When hard work goes unnoticed or unappreciated, employees may lose steam over time, leading them down a path toward dissatisfaction and eventual disengagement.

Advanced strategy: Developing robust recognition programs that regularly highlight individual accomplishments as well as team successes in meaningful ways can help counter this issue. Recognition can be conveyed through personalized thank-you notes, public acknowledgements during team meetings and opportunities for professional growth and development, not just monetary rewards.

The Gallup State of the Global Workplace report estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion and accounts for 9% of global GDP each year in lost productivity. 

4. Low remuneration

Insufficient compensation for the amount and quality of work done can be a significant cause of dissatisfaction among employees. If they perceive that they are not being fairly rewarded, it affects their morale and engagement levels, contributing to high turnover.

Advanced strategy: Businesses can implement competitive pay scales that are in line with industry standards. Regularly reviewing and adjusting these scales according to the market trends, cost of living and individual performance can help ensure employees feel valued for their contributions. Additionally, consider offering bonuses based on achieved targets or successful projects to further acknowledge exceptional work. A comprehensive benefits package including health insurance coverage, retirement plans and flexible working arrangements can also be an effective way to motivate employees beyond just monetary compensation.

5. Conflict within teams

Workplace conflicts are inevitable due to differing personalities and work styles, and they are one of the most common work issues. While healthy disagreement can spark innovation, unresolved conflict might create a stressful environment that leads to decreased productivity, in turn leading to higher turnover as individuals seek healthier work environments. Disengaged employees may even withhold ideas for fear of criticism, stifling creativity.

Advanced strategy: Fostering a culture of open communication where differences of opinion are respected is the basis of any strategy. Encouraging dialogue about disagreements allows mutual understanding and compromise instead of creating divisive factions within the team. A solid strategy can also include investing in conflict resolution training for all staff members. This training should focus on key skills like active listening, empathy and effective communication as a base to fostering cooperation and compromise. Depending on the severity and progression of a conflict, sometimes involving HR and the policies in place might not be enough, and hiring an impartial third party might be the step needed to avoid a further decrease in morale and, eventually, costly turnover.

Implementing Strategies for Stress Management in the Workplace Is Cost-Effective in the Long Run

The cost of disengagement is undeniably high. It affects productivity levels, increases turnover and ultimately impacts profitability. The Gallup State of the Global Workplace report estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion and accounts for 9% of global GDP each year in lost productivity.

Addressing these five key stress factors with appropriate strategies can not only improve employee engagement, but also boost overall organizational performance, proving that investing in your workforce isn't just good for morale; it's effective business management as well.

This page is for general information purposes. JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness. Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals.
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