Relationship Between Stress and Performance

Even before COVID, the impact of stress on performance and results was affecting the workplace

The relationship between stress and performance at work is often a reciprocal one. On one hand, employees who bring their personal stress to work generally have performance issues; in turn, the workplace can cause stress, which will then affect employees both at work and at home. Is this situation a balancing act, one of cause and effect, or something else entirely?

Some claim a healthy amount of stress helps to drive optimal performance. For Ken MacDonald, Associate Vice-President of National Accounts at Hub International Ltd., “Too much stress can overwhelm, and too little stress can underwhelm and hinder performance. ”

However, Arla Day, Professor of occupational health psychology at Saint Mary’s University, says there’s a clear negative relationship between stress and performance. “If your workers are stressed, their overall quality of work will suffer. They can lose focus on their work — which can create more mistakes and accidents — and have lower performance, especially in the long run.

“Those who argue that stress is a good thing are confusing stress with engagement and they are ignoring the long-term effects of stress.”

The Challenges

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Written By

Kyla Colburn is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

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