man at desk looking stressedDisengaged employees cost businesses, with overly stressedemployees are 37 percent more likely to take days off, 18 percentless productive and produce 15 percent less profitability. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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Workplace stress and subsequent burnout is plaguing the American workforce andstifling productivity.

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Two-thirds of Americans suffer from workplace stress, accordingto a Gallup poll, and burnout has become so common, the World Health Organization(WHO) has even added it to the International Classification of Diseases. As "asyndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stressthat has not been successfully managed," burnout is somethingemployers have the unique ability to mitigate.

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Related: 6 classifications of workers, based on burnoutrisk

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Taking action benefits the employer as much as the employee.Disengaged employees cost businesses, with overly stressedemployees are 37 percent more likely to take days off, 18 percentless productive and produce 15 percent less profitability. That'sthousands of dollars burnout directly flushes down the drain.

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Instead of settling for the expensive realities of this newnorm, employers should follow these steps to reduce workplacestress:

1. Identify warning signs

Before employers can prevent workplace stress, they have to beable to see it. That means keeping an eye out for signs that anemployee may be experiencing stress both inside and outside ofwork.

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Telltale signs that an employee is stressed includes customercomplaints, arguments with coworkers, demonstrating lowproductivity, engaging in workplace bullying or harassment and inappropriately shouting in meetings or on calls.

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These actions may be the direct result of stress-inducingsituations happening at work, but it's also possible employees areacting out because of stress-inducing problems at home, such as notbeing able to pay the bills, hitting a rough spot in personalrelationships or experiencing health problems.

2. Invest in more than just a pre-hire background check

Contrary to popular belief, employers are able to view thesources of stress that occur at home through automated, continuousevaluation.

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This goes beyond the pre-hire background check, which onlyallows employers to see an employee's past—not the current warningsigns or their future actions.

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Unfortunately, actively disengaged employees are grown, nothired, and static, pre-hire background checks fail to capturebehavioral patterns that could lead to an employee committing acrime or inflicting serious harm on coworkers or the organizationas a whole. Automated, continuous evaluation gives business leadersinsight into some of the external life events most employers areblind to, empowering them to see and, if possible, intervene.

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For example, if they discover an employee recently totaled theircar, they may have human resources reach out to them to see if theyneed to take a day off to deal with insurance and find a newvehicle. Or, if there are other financial issues at play, HR maypoint them to the company's employee-assistance program orprofessionals with subject-matter expertise.

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Some continuous evaluation workforce assurance platforms allowemployees to anonymously report inappropriate or illegal individualbehavior. In such cases, even if it's difficult to pinpoint exactlywhat could be causing that stress, input from others is sometimesenough to warrant a conversation that may reveal problems, such asunderstaffing, poor management, or excessive workloads—all of whichcould impact that particular employee, and possibly others,too.

3. Create an open workplace culture

Having the ability to see and respond to employee stress demandsa cultural shift, one that moves the business toward a more openand supportive environment.

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At the end of the day, this is the ultimate, mutually beneficialgoal: to create a safe and fulfilling workplace environment whereemployee well-being and engagement are improved, retentionincreases, and where employees are more productive and making fewermistakes. According to Gallup, these achieving this call canincrease profitability by 21 percent.

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Mitigating risk and supporting employees under stress is key toimproving to an organization's progress and longevity. The goodnews is, it's never been easier for employers to do this, equippingthemselves with the modern tools and knowledge needed toeffectively and efficiently battle burnout.

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Tom Miller is CEO of ClearForce, anorganization that protects businesses and employees through thecontinuous and automated discovery of employee misconduct orhigh-risk activities.

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