In the latest information to be making the news in Australia, absenteeism is on the rise and much of it can be directly linked to job-related stress. Whether that stress is directly linked to the jobs they are doing or if stress is the result of growing competition in the workforce, the evidence is clear. Growing numbers of workers are taking leave from their jobs, whether approved or not approved, and the ultimate cause is being reported as stress.

shutterstock_263104373Absenteeism is only a part of the concern

While absenteeism does affect productivity within a company, that is only a part of the concern. According to Per Wickstrom, CEO and founder of A Forever Recovery drug rehab in the United States, stress can lead to much greater problems than an occasional day off. “We have found that job-related stress has been one of the leading causes of addiction to benzodiazapams such as Xanax. A worker is stressed, goes to the family doctor and is summarily prescribed benzos which he or she begins taking first at night to calm the nerves and then over time throughout the day.”

What exactly are benzos?

Benzos are a psychoactive class of pharmaceutical that are prescribed most often for insomnia, anxiety and a host of other conditions and at this time, this is a class of medication that is one of the most over-prescribed in the United States, Europe and as far afield as Australia. Benzos are highly addictive and so once the worker has taken them for any length of time, no matter how short, an addiction can quickly develop. This has caused a huge amount of concern on a corporate level because, as most people know, anti-anxiety medication slows down that person’s ability to react timely when confronted with a potentially hazardous situation.

Drugs vs stress reduction on the job

With these findings come the realisation that something should be done to reduce the amount of stress workers are experiencing. Per Wickstrom notes that “This is where HR can play a significant role in helping alleviate much of the stress workers face on a daily basis. From keeping the doors open so that those who need counselling can chat a bit, to providing stress-reduction seminars for those experiencing undue amounts of stress, there is something we, as employers, can be doing to help keep workers off dangerous habit-forming drugs.”

The underlying cause not as important as stress reduction solutions

As the latest figures on absenteeism indicate, stress is a leading cause of illness interfering with a worker both on and off the job. Whether it is an uncertain economy keeping that individual stressing or a feeling of hopelessness in his or her position, the fact remains that workers are simply experiencing more stress than they can easily handle. In order to prevent a problem that is already verging on epidemic proportions from growing any worse, today’s company director should take matters in hand and provide alternative methods of stress reduction for workers.

Sacking employees does no ultimate good as the new staff hired to fill those vacancies will face the same issues. The only solution is to work towards reduced stress so that this is one less road to addiction workers will face. In the end both the company and the worker benefit, so a joint effort does make the most sense.