Does PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) affect Workplace Productivity?


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Statistics show that ambulance workers in developed countries such as Sweden, the USA, and the UK report 4% to 22% post-traumatic stress disorder prevalence (Kerai et al., 2017). These professionals play a crucial role in saving lives, and exposure to this condition might affect their productivity. PTSD is a mental disease caused by terrifying and scary events experiences in people’s lives. In recent times, organizations have encountered cases of PTSD among their workers, which threatens productivity. Factors such as serious injuries in the workplace and a co-worker’s death might fuel the emergence of PTDS. Other external factors, such as physical abuse, sexual assault, and loss of a loved one, lead to this condition. These elements affect a worker’s productivity because they are likely to lose concentration while handling organizational duties. It affects the delivery of results at the right time and expected standards. This condition also develops absenteeism and, in the long-run, tampers with productivity. Workers who have PTSD are likely to use substances such as drugs to conceal their feelings and emotions. There is also a high chance of developing poor relationships with workers. PTSD significantly affects a worker’s productivity due to reduced concentration, absenteeism, poor relationships with co-workers, and exposure to substance abuse.

Lack of concentration

Workers prone to PSTD have reduced concentration on their duties and responsibilities. Flashbacks and memories of the adverse incidents that occurred in their lives tamper with their attention. A study by Maidaniuc-Chirila and Michelle (2017) on bullying in the workplace shows that employees with PTDS suffer from a lack of concentration. They often experience heightened states of arousal and stress, leaving them unable to handle their tasks and deliver to the expectations effectively. Workers with PTSD have challenges paying attention and concentrating on completing their daily tasks. In most cases, the lack of concentration is associated with anxiety. For example, if a worker sees a person with a similar physique to an individual who harassed them, there is a high chance that they will become anxious. They find it hard to concentrate and deliver the results expected for the day and subsequently in the following days. For instance, if the employee is expected to provide a report at the end of the day, they will likely fail to meet the deadline due to lack of concentration. This shows that PTSD has an enormous effect on a worker’s level of engagement and productivity. Also, there is a higher likelihood of missing work.


Most of the workers who have PTSD fail to attend to their duties. Absenteeism is a common outcome among workers suffering from PSTD. This could be based on the worker’s decision to skip work for their health and welfare. Alternatively, it could be in the form of sick leave the management allows the worker to take time off their duties. A study by Dale et al. (2020) to assess the impact of PTSD on Norwegian doctors after a workplace terrorist attack shows that workers are likely to miss their duties during their sick leave. It denies employees the control over their work, desire to improve job satisfaction, and work attendance. When these workers are on sick leaves, there is a higher chance that they miss crucial opportunities to sharpen their skills. For example, if the management organizes a work seminar to train employees, the absent worker fails to acquire valuable insights. This significantly affects their productivity after resuming. Also, if a worker misses attending to their duties for a day or two, they experience increased workloads that could demotivate them, leading to lower productivity. Besides absenteeism, PTSD generates poor relationships with the workers.

Poor relationships with the workers

PTSD affects the development of viable relationships in the workplace. It interferes with the establishment of trust, emotional closeness, and communication. Workers enter an institution with personal experiences that can positively or negatively impact their performance (Cughes, Lusk & Strause, 2016). Negative experiences generate PTSD, which increasingly affect a worker’s job satisfaction and productivity. In the United States, the military segment has continued to deal with workers with PSTD disorders that are negatively affecting their performance (Cughes, Lusk & Strause, 2016). Their work life is affected by the condition. For example, officers prone to this condition find it hard to communicate and interact with their co-workers. Communication, trust, and the development of emotional closeness become complicated processes due to the PTSD condition. In most cases, organizations thrive on teamwork. A worker’s inability to work as part of a team due to emotional and psychological challenges affects their performance and productivity. Teamwork translates into acquisition of advanced milestones and objectives. If workers cannot associate and relate with others appropriately, there is a limited chance of working as a team and PTSD bars the establishment of a collaborative environment. Thus, PSTD becomes a significant threat to viable relationships in the workplace. PTSD creates a viable environment for poor workplace relationships and exposes workers to substance abuse.

Exposure to substance abuse

Consumption of substances such as alcohol and drugs have been linked with deteriorating productivity in the workplace. Research shows a strong link between PTSD and substance use, with statistics indicating that 40.6% of drug-dependent persons have reported symptoms of PTSD and diagnosed with this condition (Papatsavrou et al., 2011). The interrelationship between the two cannot be undermined in affecting workplace productivity as they tamper with progressive development. For instance, a worker who has PTSD and consumes substances such as alcohol and drugs might fail to attend to their duties when they are under the influence of substance abuse. Alcohol intoxication is likely to make workers arrive late to work or fail to attend to their duties and responsibilities. Progressive lateness and absenteeism might have adverse effects on a worker’s job productivity and, in the long-run, lead to loss of employment.


Post-traumatic stress disorder remains a significant threat to workforce productivity. Numerous institutions globally are faced with a risk of reduced growth due to PSTD conditions among their workforces. The exposure to this condition tampers with job satisfaction and motivation since individuals suffering from this condition are prone to distinct associated weaknesses and conditions. They lack the concentration to their duties and thus deliver inadequate outcomes. Absenteeism, the development of poor relationships in the workplace, and exposure to substance abuse are other primary outcomes experienced in the corporate world. There is a dire need for corporate leaders to develop appropriate strategies for helping workers who have PTSD. The health, welfare, and productivity of workers lie in the hands of the leaders. They should develop and implement appropriate policies for handling workers who have PTSD. Notably, workers must take the initiative to boost their health and well-being by adopting a positive attitude and perception to limit the emergence of adverse conditions that might accelerate their condition.




Dale, M. T. G., Nissen, A., Berthelsen, M., & Heir, T. (2020). Post-traumatic stress reactions and doctor-certified sick leave after a workplace terrorist attack: A Norwegian cohort study. BMJ Open, 10(2).

Hughes, C., Lusk, S. L., & Strause, S. (2016). Recognizing and accommodating employees with PTSD: The intersection of human resource development, rehabilitation, and psychology. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, 28(2), 27-39.

Kerai, S., Pasha, O., Khan, U., Islam, M., Asad, N., & Razzak, J. (2017). Association of post-traumatic stress disorder and work performance: A survey from an emergency medical service, Karachi, Pakistan. World journal of emergency medicine, 8(3), 214.

Maidaniuc-Chirilă, T., & Duffy, M. K. (2017). The Role of Workplace Bullying in Employees Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. Romanian Journal of Experimental Applied Psychology, 8.

Papastavrou, E., Farmakas, A., Karayiannis, G., & Kotrotsiou, E. (2011). Comorbidity of post-traumatic-stress disorders and substance use disorder. Health Science Journal, 5(2), 107.

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