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Calculating the Real Cost of Workplace Stress to the Bottom Line

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

If you see an old lady fall over and her shopping bag spills on the floor what do you do?

Some will automatically go to her aid, while others will first look around to see if someone will go to her aid or if anyone is watching what they do. There are things we do in life because they are the right things to do and not because someone is watching or we feel we should be doing them.

Going to the aid of someone in distress is for me in the category of doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately for many businesses dealing with workplace stress is not always seen in the same way and that’s one reason why stress in the workplace is still such a big problem and costs businesses millions each year.

On a recent “WellBeing at Work Formula” seminar, I was asked by a participant “how do I get more corporate clients?”

They were a coach who was considering transitioning into corporate coaching and specialising in stress management. Although the question was very specific and not directly related to the seminar, it did raise a very important issue in relation to addressing workplace stress. I suggested we asked some of the corporate participants who were there, what motivated them to sign up and take a day out of their busy and valuable schedule?

The answers varied from

“I am very stressed and want to learn how to cope”

“I was told about this event and wanted to learn more”

One participant sat rolling her eyes as others offered their reasons, so I turned to her and asked “what motivated you to come along and equally of interest to me, is what nearly stopped you from showing up?”

“Oh that’s easy I had to be sure I got a return on my investment” was her reply.

I turned to the coach who had asked the original question and said “And this is your challenge. To get people to see the real cost of failing to deal with workplace stress so they can then see the value of being pro-active. If someone has to see the return on investment they aren’t yet aware of the real costs to their business”

I turned back to the lady who wanted to see a return on investment and asked.

“Have you worked out the real cost and potential future costs of failing to address workplace stress? And if not, how will you know what your return in investment would be if you don’t know what stress is costing you?”

She sat in silence as she considered my points.

What is workplace stress really costing your business and the bottom line?

Some businesses are addressing workplace stress simply because it’s the right thing to do. Others need to have the business case presented to them so they can see the return on investment.

Research shows that for every £1 spend on stress management there is a return of £13, that alone ought to be a convincing case to be pro-active but it’s often not enough. Calculate the real cost of workplace stress make it personal, specific and real and most savvy businesses will clearly see how irresponsible it is not to address it.

Perhaps instead of asking what is my return on investment the smarter question to ask is what are my costs for failing to invest?

And then do the right thing…..

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