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Employees on the Brink: What’s their breaking Point?

by Victoria Fitoussi

Aug 21, 2018

We all wish for employees who wake up in the morning saying “Wow, I get to go to work today!” Unfortunately, most employees aren’t at all excited about their current work situation. In fact, it’s possible that many of your employees are on the verge of walking away from their jobs. According to the Faas Foundation and Mental Health America, their 2017 survey of 17,000 U.S. Workers across 19 industries showed that 71 percent of employees were unhappy with their current jobs and seeking a change. “About half of today’s employees will hit their breaking point in 2018,” states Dave Wright, ServiceNow’s Chief Strategy Officer. He adds, “Employees feel like they are burning the candle at both ends. In fact, 46% said they will need greater workplace efficiencies in 2018 just to get their jobs done.”

What are the main factors pushing today’s employees to their breaking point, and what can you do to reduce your company’s talent exodus?

Workplace Stress

Workplace stress can push employees to their breaking point, causing them to become frustrated and quit their jobs. Long term and acute stress may have a negative effect on your employees, leaving them more susceptible to both mental and physical illness. This can result in more missed work days, project delays and missed deadlines. Stress has become a recognized and serious occupational health and safety hazard and a significant concern for employers, labor unions and government regulators. An employee file for stress leave and obtain benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act, with proof of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job and appropriate treatment from a medical provider.

Workplace stress is one of the major breaking points for employees. Key factors impacting employee stress may be increased workloads or work expectations, additional responsibilities without increased compensation, difficult co-worker relationships, and inept or insensitive management. Stress can impact an employee’s ability to perform at their best and to have a sense of integration and inclusion in their company.  

Stress at work is not a uniquely U.S. problem. A worldwide survey conducted by Cigna, revealed that New Zealand and the United Kingdom tie for 4th place for unmanageable stress. “Eighty-three percent of Kiwis says they suffer from stress and a third say work is the cause,” states Newshub writer Wilhelmina Shrimpton. “Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians report feeling overworked,” reveals Arturo Gallo, content manager at Monster Canada.” He also states, “out of those people, nearly one-third say their workload is their main cause of stress.”

"As we know, stress comes in all shapes and sizes at work," says Angela Payne, General Manager for Monster Canada. "To avoid the possibility of employees seeking greener pastures elsewhere, when possible, employers should consider taking steps to establish more sustainable workloads for employees, and consider employee engagement programs that keep motivation high during busy times."

Lack of Recognition and Workplace Perks

Employees may reach their breaking point more quickly when they don’t feel the love. Workers are struggling for appreciation and recognition for a job well done. The majority of employees surveyed for the 2017 Mind the Workplace report said that they don’t get sufficient recognition from their companies. 45 percent of those responding felt that they “rarely or never” received the compensation they deserved. 44 percent believed they were “always or often” unfairly passed over for recognition, and 77 percent said that co-workers were being unfairly recognized over others with better experience or skills.

The lack of employee-friendly workplace perks can be another tipping point for employees. In addition to the benefits typically offered by companies, the lack of workplace perks can have a major impact on employee experiences and opinions about their workplace. Companies which offer the increased autonomy of flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, flexible work hours, open-door management policies and training opportunities for professional growth may have employees who feel more in control of their work experience, and less likely to leave for greener pastures.  

Workplace wellness research has established that employers with successful employee recognition and reward programs are more likely to have higher scores on employee engagement. “No one wants to feel like they’re slaving away and no one is noticing. Let employees know that you’re aware and appreciative of their work. To reduce turnover, let your employees know that you value them as a part of your team, that they play a role in your success and that you are grateful for the contributions they make. Employers with great employee recognition programs are also more likely to have higher performing employees and to foster a greater level of employee tenure and company stability. “We know that employees who are overstressed and under-supported can significantly impact the people around them and a company’s success,” states Paul Gionfriddo, president and chief executive of Mental Health America

Compensation

While compensation is not always the biggest reason why employees reach their breaking point, it certainly plays a role. An unhappy employee may reason, “I’m stressed out and I’m not paid enough for what all that I do,” or “my manager doesn’t recognize my value and I don’t get paid what I should.” In addition to compensating employees at a fair market value for their positions, companies should consider weighing in the value of industry-specific “hot skills” and the merits of advanced experience or training. Salary increases can also be aligned according to tangible and demonstrable performance metrics having been met or exceeded. Offering incentive or bonus pay for taking on or successfully completing special projects is another way to tie compensation to performance. This can ensure that team members are adequately recognized, and that no one employee feels overlooked for their contribution to the team’s success.

Focusing on employee recognition and retention efforts will pay off in the long run and is far more cost-effective than recruiting and on-boarding new talent in today’s competitive market. Regular employee engagement surveys, performance evaluations, exit interviews and an open-door policy can help your company to keep a finger on the pulse of the employee experience. Early intervention and recognition of the signs of burnout, stress or building frustration, can help keep your employees from reaching their breaking point.


Sapling’s Onboarding and HRIS platform helps mid-sized companies automate and elevate their employee experience, with deep integrations across all the Google G Suite applications your team already knows and loves. 

Victoria Fitoussi

Victoria joined Sapling's marketing team in Spring 2018. She is passionate about connecting people, any and all creative pursuits, and helping Sapling enhance People Ops leaders to deliver employee experience programs with consistency, visibility, and analytics.