Stress and job performance have long been linked. In most cases, stress is believed to have a negative effect on performance at work. This includes stress factors that are work related as well as other life stressors. Workers who experience high levels of stress may be ill or absent more often, may be more prone to make errors and may have a lower tolerance for challenging situations or people. They are also likely to have lower levels of job satisfaction, a factor that is often linked to a decrease in performance levels and an increase in turnover rates.
Over the years, a number of studies have been performed on the link between stress and job performance. Some studies are formal and documented, while others are informal surveys conducted by organizations and companies seeking to increase worker productivity. Numerous papers and books have been published on the topic.
In general, stress is thought to affect job performance negatively. On-the-job stressors, such as poor or unsafe working conditions, bad management and unreasonable expectations are most certainly detrimental to an employee's ability to perform well. Such stressors often affect employee morale, making workers less enthusiastic about their jobs and about the company. Unmotivated workers will generally be less effective than those who are comfortable with their jobs and the work environment.
Some job-place stress is more directly linked to poor performance. For example, lack of proper training causes an employee to lack confidence in his ability to do the job. This causes worry over poor performance reviews and even termination, which in turn, causes stress. In this case, the link between stress and job performance is two-fold. The stressor — a lack of proper training — reduces job effectiveness, and the problem is exacerbated by the stress caused by worrying about job security.
There is also a distinct correlation between personal stress and job performance. Employees who have high levels of stress at home, due to family, monetary or other concerns, are likely to be distracted from their work by worry over those stressors. Even stressors such as a long or difficult commute can affect performance. Stress is also a factor in mental and physical conditions that can affect absenteeism and performance.
In certain instances, the link between stress and job performance can be quite different. This generally happens in terms of positive stress. For example, an individual who has recently been promoted or who is working on a high-visibility project will experience a certain amount of stress. This positive stress, however, can actually drive the worker to perform more effectively.