Aside from the generally high rate of mental stress in the economy, work stress is one of the most significant challenges that firms face. It inhibits the ability of individuals and teams to accomplish tasks and make good decisions. As a result, billions of dollars are lost on poor productivity, absenteeism and more.

Statistics have shown that about 21% of Australians have taken a break from work in any given year because they felt stressed or mentally unhealthy.

How Much Money Does Stress Cause Business Yearly

The Productivity Commission estimates that mental illnesses cost the Australian economy between $200 billion to $220 billion annually. It is estimated that around $15 billion to $17.4 billion is caused by businesses from work stress. 

It is important to note that this high cost isn’t only due to anxiety. Still, it is a significant part as it is caused by people who cannot join the labour market, attend work and be productive at work because of anxiety. 

Jim Stanford, an economist and the director of the Centre for Future Work, analysed the numbers and, with his studies, estimates absenteeism to cost the economy about $9.6 billion yearly and presenteeism about $7 billion in a year. 

Absenteeism is a regular pattern of staying away from work for no reason. It is mostly viewed as an indicator of low motivation to work or poor individual mental health. In contrast, presenteeism is when you show up at work but cannot carry out your duties because of anxiety, stress or poor mental health. 

Although these two costs businesses billions yearly, firms also lose about $12.2 to 22.5 billion a year from a lack of productive workers, and about $11 billion is paid in income support to people who cannot work because of poor mental health. 

Causes Of Work Stress

To find the solution to a problem, one must understand the cause. For example, there are several causes of stress in the workplace, and identifying these stress employees tend to experience will help businesses develop the best solutions for them. So, let’s look at some common causes of work stress. 

  • Long working hours
  • Job security
  • Insufficient training
  • Excessive workload and responsibility
  • Poor leadership
  • Discrimination at work, etc.

Signs Of Work Stress

There are various ways stress can affect our health and physical well-being. So, we should always watch out for these symptoms in ourselves and our team to ensure the individual seeks help before it becomes extreme. Some common signs of work stress include:

Behavioural signs

  • Absenteeism or presenteeism
  • Decline in work performance 
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Aggression or increased sensitivity
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of punctuality.

Psychological signs

  • Insomnia
  • Depression 
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Anxiety.

Physical signs

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Frequently increased heartbeat
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Muscular tension, etc. 

Solutions To Work Stress

Most jobs come with some stress, and it is normal to experience work stress regularly. However, too much stress is bad for businesses. Not only does it cost businesses a lot, but it also costs the economy billions yearly due to a lack of interest, involvement and reduced productivity. 

Hence, it is important that from now on, businesses must not only try to figure out the symptoms of work stress and solve them. But, they should also solve the cause of this work stress. Here are some ways to reduce workplace stress and improve business productivity. 

  • Create opportunities for career growth.
  • Prioritise mental health and wellness in your firm.
  • Educate individuals and teams on work stress and ensure they have access to information about the symptoms and solutions.
  • Ensure there are enough resources to carry out tasks effectively.
  • Encourage and support healthy work-life balance.
  • Promote an active, healthy lifestyle with fitness facilities and healthy meals. 
  • Encourage good leadership and teamwork. 
  • Encourage workers, appreciate them and leave feedback productively and encouragingly. 
  • Discourage gender, religion, sex or role discrimination between staff.

3 Australian Firms Leading The Way In Promoting Wellness For Their Staff


Deloitte owns over 14 offices in Australia and a team with over 3000 employees. Deloitte understands that its people are its greatest asset; thus, they execute a well-being strategy that helps promote employee well-being and aid individual and business growth. 

The brand’s commitment to encouraging a good work-life balance, good physical health and reduced work stress brought about Deloitte support across three tiers. The support across three tiers include the Mind, Body and Purpose. 

The Mind tier encourages enduring mental wellness via ongoing learning, an healthy working environment, and ensuring that employees feel engaged in what they do and connected to their co-workers. The Body tier encourages physical health behaviour to build endurance. Finally, the Purpose tier encourages and helps employees feel a sense of purpose and meaning in their everyday tasks.

Johnson & Johnson 

Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd is a fully owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It was established in 1931 in Australia. The subsidiary has four medical and healthcare companies in Australia and generates around AUD$1.5bn in revenue. The company employs around 2,000 individuals and is well recognised for its desire to make its employees take care of themselves and promote the brand’s healthcare and well-being message.

Johnson & Johnson employee well-being is influenced by the active physical environment and everyday activities such as eating healthy in the work canteens, fitness centres classes and so on. It is evident that the healthy well-being of the individual and team of this workplace not only increases their productivity but aids the growth of the business. 


Atlassian, an Australian software company that deals with developing products for software developers and software development teams, is a company well concerned about the mental health of its staff. In late 2016, the company piloted a wellness program with Select Wellness that Atlassian used to assess its employee’s mental well-being. The program was successful, with employees matched with individually tailored health programs. 

Back then, the employers chosen for the program reported better sleeping, increased productivity and reduced anxiety. So, while Atlassian offers a range of staff health well-being programs and consistently comes up with ideas to mitigate work stress, one can only hope that the employees benefit from these programs.


Work stress is common in every work industry, but normalising it would encourage reduced productivity and career growth of employees and businesses.

Hence, every business must develop in-house solutions to help employees’ mental health and well-being.