Employers throughout Connecticut and the nation are under increasing competitive pressure to do more in less time and with fewer people.

While these pressures are very real—and keep in mind, we are an employer defense law firm—it's important to remember that pushing one's workforce to extreme can have measurable negative impacts.

As Beth Gutelius, a senior researcher at the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois-Chicago points out in HR Magazine:

"We have to consider the physical toll and the mental toll. They’re linked, but the mental toll gets much less attention. Nobody's doing a lot of research on the psychological toll of being under that level of surveillance and that level of pressure to work quickly under threat of being fired by the computer."

In some environments, particularly in manufacturing, even trips to the restroom are closely monitored now.

The scrutiny over bathroom breaks in some cases has led employees to relieve themselves into bottles on the shop floor rather than risk receiving reprimands and disciplinary points. 

Battles over restroom access have even led to pending lawsuits in federal court.

Limiting Employee Stress

It's important to remember that intense pressure to perform, work long hours, deal with job insecurity, manage heavy workloads, travel frequently, and other factors often reduce productivity, impacting a company's bottom-line while leading to employee burnout.

It's estimated that one million workers call in sick each day in America because of physical and emotional stress at an estimated cost to employers of almost $300 billion annually. 

What can Connecticut employers do to help?

  • Remain mindful of how much you're asking each employee to do during their workday/week. 
  • Remember the importance of a work/life balance—and where possible, help your employees achieve that balance.
  • Improve morale and reduce stress levels by celebrating the achievements of your workforce.
  • Strive to have a fair and balanced workplace policy that includes reasonable paid time off.
  • Train managers to watch for signs of burnout and fatigue—encouraging them to give you feedback on workplace policies that could be improved.  

In the end, happy and motivated employees are an invaluable asset and good for business.

About the author: Shel Myers is an attorney at the labor and employment law firm Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Hartford.