What contributes to higher levels of workplace stress and isolation, and is strongly correlated with job dissatisfaction and people quitting?

According to research by Mental Health America, which published its Workplace Health Survey last year, one overarching issue organizations need to address comes down to one simple sentence:

Lack of support and recognition

More than 17,000 employees across 19 industries in the U.S. were surveyed about workplace culture, workplace stress, and the overall state of workers' mental health.

Not surprisingly, this is yet another study that confirms the significance of appealing to human emotions in the workplace -- a call to make work more human in order for employees to thrive.

As we enter the season of giving, companies need to consider gifting their employees with workplace practices that will boost more moments of support and recognition. Hopefully, this is a strategy that will carry forward well into 2019 and beyond.

The research on why people quit 

I'll preface by saying that 70 percent of respondents who participated in the Workplace Health Survey were either "actively looking for new job opportunities" or were thinking about it "always, often, or sometimes."

While this study was conducted between June 1, 2015, and March 1, 2017, this tune hasn't changed. A more recent survey conducted by Randstad US during July found that 60 percent of workers have quit in 2018 (and about the same number are still thinking about doing it).

Here are some of the more glaring findings that caught my attention from the Workplace Health Survey, as it relates to the question of support and recognition: 

  • Only 21 percent of respondents felt that they were paid what they deserved.
  • 45 percent of respondents said that they were "rarely or never" paid what they deserved.
  • 77 percent of respondents believed that skilled employees were not given proper recognition.
  • 44 percent of respondents believed that skilled employees were "always or often" overlooked and not given recognition.
  • 36 percent and 34 percent of respondents felt that they could rely on supervisor and colleague support, respectively.
  • 74 percent of respondents felt hindered by trivial activities or felt micromanaged.
  • 65 percent of respondents reported feeling isolated in their workplace because of an
    unhelpful and hostile environment. 

Who's to blame?

In one word: leadership. To improve these statistics, leaders at the highest level must commit resources (interviewing tools, assessments, leadership training, coaching and mentoring) to hire and make better leaders within the organization.

To drive the point further, the report cites what Gallup has been preaching for decades: Leaders and managers who adopt an engaging, "servant leadership" style, and build relationships to recognize and truly understand their employees' human needs will dramatically increase employees' engagement and productivity.

Bringing it home, it's interesting to note that 75 percent of respondents in workplaces that scored as "healthy" noted that they experienced open-door and relaxed work environments led by such leaders.