The term “stress” refers to the demands, or “stressors,” as well as the stress response’s origins, effects, and moderators, a psychological phenomenon. Occupational stress is frequently used in the professional business sector to describe the ongoing or escalating tension that an employee goes through due to their duties, stressful working conditions, surroundings, or other pressures at work.
Occupational stress can take many forms, depending on the individual worker, job role, corporate culture, and other factors. Both companies and employees are pretty concerned about occupational stress. 40% of workplace turnover and 80% of all work-related stress injuries in the United States are directly related to occupational stress.
Occupational stress, its effects, and the possibility of employee turnover will all be covered in this blog.
What is Occupational Stress?
Given the problem’s long history, occupational stress should be categorized as a risk factor. Occupational stress is a chronic ailment that cannot be treated, nor is it a harmful or acute condition.
Instead, occupational stress is a chronic ailment that necessitates understanding the epidemiology or life history of the issue before looking at alternative methods for protection, prevention, and intervention. Three stages might be thought of when analyzing occupational stress epidemiology:
- Stage 1 is about the causes of stress known to be risk factors.
- Stage 2 is the stress response, a normal and natural reaction to external job demands or internal pressures.
- Stage 3 is about the effects of life history, which can be either form of distress (medical, psychological, or behavioral) or conditions of eustress (healthy stress).
The job stress response shows various individual differences in addition to the primary component of the life history of occupational stress, which may operate as protective factors for the individual or increase vulnerability. Work stress tends to hit a weak spot, sometimes described as one’s Achilles heel, because it is not a specific condition. It is also known as the “weak organ theory.”
Types of Occupational Stress
Occupational stress is a prevalent issue in the workplace, manifesting in various ways and affecting individuals differently. Understanding the different types of occupational stress is crucial for employees and employers to maintain a healthy and productive work environment. Here, we explore some common types of occupational stress:
One of the most recognizable forms of occupational stress occurs when employees are burdened with excessive work within a given timeframe. Workload stress can lead to feeling overwhelmed and needing more time to complete tasks effectively.
When employees need more clarity regarding their roles, responsibilities, or what is expected of them, it can lead to job stress. It often arises in organizations with poor communication and unclear job descriptions, impacting job control and perceived stress levels.
Certain jobs involve psychologically demanding jobs, such as heavy lifting, long hours of standing, or exposure to harsh environmental stressful job conditions. Physical stress can lead to fatigue and harm worker health and occupational safety.
Roles that demand high levels of cognitive engagement, constant decision-making, or problem-solving can lead to mental stress. Mental stress is pervasive in positions such as management, healthcare, and emergency services, highlighting the need for job stress management strategies.
Occupations that require the management of emotions, dealing with demanding clients or customers, or witnessing traumatic events can lead to emotional health stress. Healthcare workers, first responders, and customer service representatives are often at risk and may benefit from job stress prevention measures.
Conflict with colleagues or supervisors, workplace bullying, or a toxic organizational culture can cause significant workplace stress. Such situations can harm mental health and require job redesign and organizational behavior changes.
Concerns about job stability, layoffs, or job loss can create substantial job stress, impacting an employee’s financial security and overall well-being. Occupational stress management and job security measures can help alleviate this form of stress.
Work-Life Balance Stress:
Balancing work demands with personal life responsibilities can be challenging. Long hours, excessive overtime, and a lack of flexibility contribute to work-life balance stress, emphasizing the need for occupational stress management techniques.
Low pay, financial instability, or excessive debt can significantly contribute to job stress and affect an employee’s overall quality of life. Employers can address this by promoting financial wellness programs and stress prevention initiatives.
Shift Work Stress:
To mitigate shift work stress, occupational health and occupational safety and health measures are essential due to irregular work hours, including night or rotating shifts, which can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to mental and physical health issues. Occupational health and safety measures are essential to mitigate this stress.
In addition to the common forms of occupational stress, it’s crucial to consider job control, job tasks, preventing stress, worker health, and well-being. Furthermore, addressing issues related to prolonged stress, organizational stress, job redesign, occupational health, stress prevention, stress management, and organizational behavior is essential for effectively managing and reducing stress in the workplace. Acknowledging and addressing these stressors is the first step. Employers and employees can then work collaboratively to create a more supportive, healthier, and ultimately more productive work environment.
How occupational stress works
Even though the causes of occupational stress can differ from person to person, it’s vital to understand that workers in all organizations, no matter how big or small, can experience work-related stress. Significant cases of occupational stress include:
- Organizational implementation of strict policies and procedures: Surely, every company needs to maintain policies, protocols, and procedures. But being too strict can cause occupational stress.
- Limited career and personal development opportunities: Having little or no chance of personal and career development discourages employees and builds occupational stress.
- Disagreements between departments or groups within an organization: Disagreements or conflicts between individuals or departments can also lead to occupational stress.
- Micromanaging and mismanaging the workforce: Micromanagement is not always beneficial. Sometimes it results in mismanagement, which causes workplace stress.
- The human resources department’s lack of assistance: If HR is not doing their job correctly, it is a given that employees will be stressed and unmotivated.
- Emotional, environmental, or occupational concerns: Workplace stress can develop due to personal, emotional, environmental, or other problems, and these factors can also contribute to occupational stress.
- Bullying, undervaluing, and racial bias: Bullying, racism, or underestimating anyone is not healthy for any person. So obviously, these things create job stress.
- Time management issues: Not getting directions and work on time and missing the submission timeline can create occupational stress.
- No professional advice or guidance: Occupational stress happens if the team leader, human resources department, or employers don’t professionally advise and guide employees through stress prevention activities that might need guidance.
- Working too much: Too much work pressure creates work-life chaos, resulting in job stress.
- Recurring termination threats: Constantly threatening termination will not make employees work harder out of fear, but rather increase their workplace stress.
- Benefits, salary reductions, and wage losses: If a company or HR cuts a salary or bonus for trivial reasons without consideration, employees will be stressed in their work and personal lives.
Occupational Stress and The Risk of Employee Turnover
Actual turnover risk is heightened by occupational stress. Preventing employee turnover may be helped by taking steps to reduce stress.
Although much research has looked at the connection between job stress and turnover, these studies rely on small sample numbers, self-reporting by participants, the healthcare workforce, or cross-sectional studies.
This study used turnover data from corporate records to confirm whether occupational stress increases the probability of turnover in a large-scale prospective cohort study.
Participants in this study were 3892 male and 5765 female employees of a financial services organization aged 20 to 49. They were monitored from October 2012 to April 1, 2016, and they exploited company records to locate resigned employees.
The Brief Job Stress Questionnaire identifies employees with high and low-stress levels. We employed Cox proportional hazards models to determine risk ratios for turnover in high-stress workers. Additionally, we calculated the risks attributed to the population separately for men and women.
122 males and 760 females quit during 11,475,862 person-days. After considering age, length of service, job type, and position, the 95% confidence intervals for high-stress employees leaving their jobs were 2.86 (1.74–4.68) for men and 1.52 (1.29–1.78) for women.
Men were 8.2% more likely to experience high stress compared to women. Conversely, women were 8.3% more likely to report high stress levels. Additionally, component scores, including job stressors, psychological/physical stress response, workplace social support, and job strain (characterized by high job demands and low job control), were found to be significantly associated with turnover (p < 0.05).
Stress at work makes it more likely that people will leave their jobs. Taking steps to prevent occupational stress at work could help keep employees from leaving.
How to Reduce Occupational Stress
Reducing occupational stress is essential for maintaining overall well-being, job satisfaction, and, ultimately, the productivity of both employees and employers. In today’s fast-paced work environment, the impact of work-related stress on personal life, job performance, and occupational health cannot be overstated. Here, we’ll explore strategies individuals and employers can implement to alleviate work stress and foster a more supportive work environment.
- Time Management: Efficiently managing your time is crucial to stress prevention. Prioritizing tasks and setting realistic goals can keep you organized and reduce the pressure of looming deadlines. Consider using tools like to-do lists or time management apps to assist this endeavor.
- Learn to Say No: Recognize your limits and avoid overcommitting yourself. Politely declining additional tasks or projects when your workload is overwhelming is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
- Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to contact colleagues, friends, or a mental health professional if you’re experiencing work-related stress. Sharing feelings can provide valuable insights and emotional support, ultimately contributing to disease control and mental well-being.
- Learn Stress Management Skills: Equip yourself with stress management techniques like problem-solving, assertiveness, and coping strategies. These skills can empower you to navigate challenging situations more effectively, improving job performance and reducing the risk of occupational health issues.
- Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Make conscious choices to support your well-being. Eating a balanced diet, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption, and avoiding smoking enhance personal health and build resilience to stress.
- Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Offer flexible schedules, remote work options, and paid time off to help alleviate work stress and reduce the strain that spills over into personal life.
- Manage Workloads: Ensure that workloads are manageable and realistic. Overloading employees with excessive tasks and tight deadlines can increase job stress and negatively impact job performance.
- Training and Development: Invest in the professional development of your employees. Provide training in stress management, time management, and resilience-building to enhance their skills and well-being. Equipping your workforce with these skills can help prevent stress-related issues and boost overall job satisfaction.
- Create a Supportive Environment: Foster a workplace culture that values and supports employees’ well-being. Rewarding and recognizing employees for their efforts can help morale and reduce job stress.
- Wellness Programs: Offer comprehensive wellness programs encompassing gym access, mindfulness sessions, or nutritionist access. Focusing on mental and physical health can reduce work stress and promote occupational health.
In today’s competitive work environment, job stress increases the risk of burnout and various employee health issues. Individuals can take proactive steps to manage stress, while employers can collaborate to create a supportive work environment. Together, these efforts can mitigate the adverse effects of work stress and contribute to a healthier and more productive workplace.
How QuestionPro Can Help to Solve Job Stress
QuestionPro, a robust survey and research platform, can be vital in addressing and mitigating organizational job stress. These surveys can delve into various aspects such as workload, job demands, interpersonal dynamics, and overall job satisfaction. What’s particularly important is that QuestionPro offers a secure and confidential platform. This platform fosters a safe environment for employees, enabling them to share their concerns openly and provide suggestions without fear of repercussions.
Additionally, QuestionPro offers the advantage of benchmarking. Employers can compare their organization’s stress-related survey results with industry benchmarks. This comparative analysis provides a deeper understanding of where the organization stands about others in terms of job stress. Such insights can be invaluable in determining areas that demand immediate focus.
With these insights, employers can develop action plans to reduce job stress.
These action plans may entail revising policies or optimizing work processes. Additionally, they may involve providing additional resources to effectively support employees in managing stress.
HR departments can significantly reduce occupational stress levels by implementing programs, projects, and strategies. That keep staff members feeling encouraged, supported, and at home.
By promoting a good, proactive workplace environment, HR departments can help reduce employee workplace stress.
It is essential to promptly address bullying, discrimination, and harassing behavior. Additionally, it’s crucial to support an open-door policy where individuals feel secure and at ease when reporting such behavior.
QuestionPro is much more than just survey software. It allows you to monitor the perception of your employees and the amount of organizational trust in your business and measures the organizational climate. We have several features included in a package called QuestionPro Workforce.