Stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization and is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year. Stress results from any change one must adapt to, ranging from extreme danger to the exhilaration of falling in love or achieving some long-desired success (Davis, Eschelman & McKay, 2008).
The relationship between stress and work has been well documented. According to a recent study, 69% of employees report that work is a significant source of stress, while 51% report feeling less productive at work as a result of stress (American Psychological Association, 2009). While it is known that stress can lead to a decline in work performance, there is limited data on whether or not there are gender and/or age differences in the ways stress affects employee productivity.
The purpose of this document is to share key findings on the impact of personal problems and stress on work performance, and the role gender and age may play. An analysis of data from employees accessing our Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) reveals insightful similarities and striking differences between genders and age groups. Our data also indicates EAP services positively influence employee work performance. We have included recommendations for EAPs, human resource professionals and managers to minimize the impact of stress on work performance as well as recommendations for further investigation.