Let’s talk about stress, baby. Let’s talk about you and me—and the devastating toll chronic stress can take on your mental and physical wellbeing.

Burnout, panic attacks, loss of productivity: all of these are connected to stress, something preventable and curable. But without awareness, prevention and cures can’t happen. That’s why we’ve put together this list of five signs of workplace stress that will help you help your people stay strong and healthy—before it’s too late.

Let’s go into the physical, mental, and performance-related alarm bells for employees suffering from stress and burnout.

Social/mental

Everyone has bad days and moods. But what happens when a bad day doesn’t end?

A symptom of stress is irritability—or, in layman’s terms, crankiness. When employees who used to be patient and outgoing become snappy and withdrawn, that might be a sign of stress.

The risks associated with irritability are threefold: isolating friends and stakeholders, becoming disengaged, and lowering performance.  No one wants to spend their time with people who are mean to them, a hallmark sign of irritability; this forced withdrawal and inevitable loneliness will make employees feel less relevant to the organization and less connected to their work.

H3 > How to recognize stress

Have an employee who used to be a joy but now seems cranky and short-tempered? Take the time to sit with them 1:1 to talk about how they’re feeling. Whether the stress is work-related or personal, it will still impact their performance. Take the time to get to know your employee and provide a support system for them. It will pay off with dividends.

Physical

We all know that when you’re sick, you should take a sick day. But what happens when you feel under the weather every day?

Stress often manifests itself physically, with symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea to chest pains. And if that isn’t enough chronic stress impacts our immune systems, making us more vulnerable to colds, flus, and other illnesses—putting stress on our bodies, widening the stress cycle.

When mental stress turns into physical stress, we lose the ability to work efficiently—turning productivity-related nightmares into reality.

H3 > How to recognize stress

Is an employee taking more days off than usual, or do they look tired and unwell?

Be candid about your WFH and sick day policies, and encourage employees to take the time they need to recover from illness. Set the example for your employees by taking sick days yourself when necessary. Help your employees set priorities; while work is important, it’s never more important than their health.

Performance

The days get longer, but you’re not checking anything off of your to-do list. Your head isn’t at your desk, even though your body’s been there all day.

Work-related stress has a funny impact on performance: it’s correlated with lowered efficiency and impact. Ha.

The more you stress about getting things done, be it specific assignments or your job as a whole, the more likely you are to spiral and have a hard time focusing. Stress is correlated with increased absenteeism, decreased quality of work, and increased turnover.

How to recognize stress

Keep an eye on how long your teammates are working and any changes in performance. If you see that a high-performer seems to be achieving less, or that your team or teammates are working endless hours, don’t jump to conclusions—instead, talk to them about how they’re feeling, if they’ve experienced changes at home or at work, and how you can support them.

The importance of stopping stress in its tracks

Increase stress is directly correlated with decreased performance, both on personal and team levels. Without taking proper measures to prevent stress, you put your team at risk of burnout, apathy, and turnover, when you’re striving for engagement and retention.


From Shayna Hodkin

Shayna lives in south Tel Aviv with two dogs and a lot of plants. She writes poems and reads tarot.