How Company Fit can prevent work stress in your company

Published on 24-09-2019

This article is an extension of our whitepaper Quality of Hire – From Job Fit to Company Fit. You can download the white paper here.

Anxiety, anger, behaviour disorders and signs of depression. These are all symptoms of chronic work stress. Moreover, work-related stress can also cause economic loss for both employee and organisation. This might all sound familiar, but did you know that Person-Organisation Fit (Company Fit) can help prevent work stress from occurring in the first place?

In their study Linking person-job fit to job stress: The mediating effect of perceived person-organization fit Deniz, Noyan and Ertosun explain the issue and offer an effective solution:

Hire people for both Person-Organisation Fit (Company Fit) and Person-Job Fit (Job Fit).

By paying careful attention to person job fit, organizations can ensure that individuals are able to adapt efficiently and by ensuring person-organization fit, organizations can provide opportunities within their culture to balance out any negative effects in times of high stress. (1)

Work stress: bad for employee, company and society

Work-related stress doesn’t only have a negative impact on the stressed person, but also on their work environment (and even society, partly because of healthcare costs).

Impact on the Employee

Prolonged periods of stress (including work-related stress) can have a dangerous impact on the physical and mental health of an employee. (2) These long term stress-related symptoms can cause additional problems: the employee could lose their job because of reduced productivity and commitment, have trouble finding new employment, or could be put on disability for the unforeseen future. All these factors could reduce their income drastically and strongly affect their independence and self-esteem.

Impact on the company

Naturally, if an employee has physical and mental health problems because of work-related stress, this also has adverse effects on the organisation they work for:

  • Lower employee commitment to work
  • Negative impact on staff performance and productivity
  • Accidents caused by human error
  • Higher staff turnover and intention to leave
  • Lower attendance levels
  • Problems with staff recruitment and retention
  • Negative organisational image and reputation
  • Potential litigation (2)

In addition, the stressed employee is in survival mode, meaning that he or she is not able to think further than the present, nor come up with creative work and effective long term plans or solutions.

Cost for employers

In their report Calculating the cost of work-related stress and psychosocial risks (3) the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work showed the costs to companies related to work stress:

The evidence shows clearly that work-related stress and psychosocial issues lead to increased absenteeism and staff turnover rates, along with decreased productivity and performance. (3)

Sickness absence and presenteeism

According to the information in the report, it’s estimated that between 30% and 60% of absence from the workplace is stress-related. Between 40% and 60% if you include the impact of long hours, lack of commitment, personal problems and low workplace morale.

Another problem related to work stress is presenteeism: working while sick. It is known to cause productivity loss, more health problems (because they aren’t healing properly), exhaustion and workplace epidemics.

The estimated costs of both sickness absence and presenteeism differ per country, but to give an example:

It is estimated that in general, the annual sickness and presenteeism cost per employee in Germany is €1 199 and €2 399 respectively.

It is interesting to see that presenteeism costs more money per employee than sickness absence, which means that it’s cheaper to send a sick employee home than to have them keep on working.


Another big cost is stress-related turnover. According to the report (which only highlights UK numbers on this), 19% of all UK turnover is stress-related. The replacement cost for the average UK employee is £5 800. This means that 19% of that amount, £1 102, is stress-related.

Other costs

The report also mentions other costs related to work stress. For example, costs associated with accidents and injuries, workplace conflict, employee relations and insurance premiums. Possible stakeholder costs could be a lower company reputation and a negative impact on brand & investor relations.

Europewide costs

The total was made up of costs to employers resulting from absenteeism and presenteeism (€272 billion), loss of productivity (€242 billion), health care costs of €63 billion and social welfare costs in the form of disability benefit payments (€39 billion). (3)

Now that we know what the effects of work stress are, let’s look at where work stress comes from and how to avoid it.

What triggers work stress?

Work-related stress can be triggered by a mismatch between an employee and their job: Person-Job Unfit.

Person- Job Unfit describes the employee who is unable to perform the job without being a hazard to self or others. In situations where there is a mismatch between these qualities the concept of “person-job unfit” arises which in turn causes increased stress levels. (1)

This means that a candidate is hired for a job they don’t have the right knowledge, skills or abilities for. If there is a mismatch, the employee gets stressed because they can’t live up to the demands of the job. Company Fit can mediate between Job Unfit (or Job Fit) and Job Stress and make work life better for the employee because of the social support factor of Company Fit.

If there is a bad Job Fit AND bad Company Fit – without an effective support network created by a good Company Fit – the working life of an employee will soon become unbearable and they will either leave, go on sick leave, or stay and have an adverse effect on their work environment.

The findings [of this study by Deniz et al.] indicate that showing regard to person- job fit is a substantial factor for decreasing job stress and the adjustment of employees to an organization is an important issue for eliminating stress. HR departments should take into consideration person-organization and also person-job fit in their selection and recruitment decisions. (1)

Conclusion: hire for Job Fit and Company Fit to prevent work stress

If you want to prevent work stress as much as possible even before a candidate is hired, you need to hire not only based on Job Fit and its associated KSAs but also based on Company Fit. This will make sure that the new employee gets the social support that they need and prevent stress from creating problems for the workplace and its employees. Secondly, the support coming from a good Company Fit can alleviate any periods of high stress that might occur to employees with a good Job Fit.

Read our white paper Happiness at Work to find out how you can improve the happiness at your workplace.

Read this article in German.


  1. Linking Person-job Fit to Job Stress: The Mediating Effect of Perceived Person-organization Fit by Nevin Deniz, Aral Noyan, Öznur Gülen Ertosun (October 2015). Lastly retrieved on the 11th of July 2019.
  2. Why manage work-related stress and mental well-being? By The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) (2018 or 2019). Lastly visited on the 15th of July 2019.
  3. Calculating the costs of work-related stress and psychosocial risks – A literature review by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2014). Lastly retrieved on the 11th of July 2019.

Header photo by Denys Nevozhai.

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