There is a notable gender difference in terms of how the stress of personal problems contributes to the rates of reported disciplinary action addressing productivity, absenteeism and work quality, with men more than twice as likely as women to be subject to formal disciplinary action due to these issues (9.8 percent vs. 4.4 percent). This gender difference was visible across all age groups, with men ages 56–65 reporting the highest rates of disciplinary action, according to Stressed at Work: What We Can Learn from EAP Utilization, a white paper from Bensinger, DuPont and Associates, a provider of employee assistance programs (EAPs).
The researchers examined data from 24,000 EAP participants who reported stress-induced declines in work performance.
To help employees ages 56-65 who appear to be vulnerable to disciplinary action, "focus on stress reduction, training and intervention programs that offer assistance with issues that are likely to impact this age group, such as elder care resources, managing home and work stress and financial issues, and preparing for retirement," the report advised.
In addition, "specific EAP support and wellness programs should focus on males and their needs in the workforce," according to the report. "Promotional outreach to men should be brief, factual and focus on solutions instead of problems, and should reflect their preferred modes of communication preferences—e-mail and text messaging."
Absenteeism is a common result of stress. Although women reported slightly higher rates of absenteeism (17.1 percent vs. 15.8 percent), men, on average, missed more days of work because of a personal problem during the previous three months.
Managers should pay attention to absenteeism because it may reflect a worker’s stress at home or in the workplace, and they should be taught how to refer employees to the EAP, the report advises. After using EAP services, 67 percent of men and 64 percent of women reported "improved productivity.”
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.