Stress is a common part of most occupations, and workplace stress can have an impact on workers at all organizational levels, including front-line staff, managers, and senior leaders. While some stress is normal, excessive and persistent stress is problematic. Everyone can use a few techniques to control and lower their personal stress levels and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Workplace stress is a problem that will continue to grow in the coming years, given the increased competition, high-performance expectations, and longer working hours. As anticipated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its 2016 work Stress at Work: a collective challenge. But to what extent does job stress affect employee performance and company results?
What is workplace stress?
Workplace stress is the physical and emotional response to damage caused by an imbalance between an individual’s perceived demands and the perceived resources and capacities to cope with those demands.
Implications for job redesign speak of workplace stress when job demands are high, and the ability to control them is low. In contrast, other current links stress discrepancies between expectations and the actual situation.
Tight deadlines and heavy workloads increase workplace stress. No one is immune to job stress. Some work conditions are more stressful than others if they demand quicker turnarounds or work in high-pressure industries.
Workplace stress affects everyone, from executives and healthcare workers to consultants and teachers.
Increased stress is correlated with increased workplace burnout. The pressures are at breaking points in industries like healthcare. According to studies, the rising workload has caused many nurses to leave their positions due to burnout.
However, workplace stress can cause burnout in any industry, so understanding occupational stress now may be beneficial in the future.
Symptoms of workplace stress
While some work-related workplace stress symptoms are more physically oriented, others may have an impact on your mental and physical health. When your stressful day is over, some symptoms may go away, but others may still be present.
Additionally, persistent stress may be detrimental to your mental or physical well-being, resulting in hypertension, heart disease, and other conditions.
Here are some signs that you might be stressed:
- Trouble focusing and paying attention to tasks
- Both physically and mentally tired
- Migraines and headaches
- High heart rate and blood pressure
- Changes in how you sleep and what you do with your friends
- Low confidence and a bad way of thinking
- A lack of self-confidence and the ability to make decisions
- More feelings of anxiety and sadness at work
Workplace stress causes
Although suffering the effects of stress will vary from person to person, research agrees that some factors drive this pathology. In this sense, we can point out the following stressors in the company:
- The physical environment: It refers to external aspects of the physical environment, such as noise, vibration, lighting, temperature, humidity, etc.
- The demands of the job: The work activity can generate stress: an excessive work shift, task overload, and exposure to high occupational hazards.
- The characteristics of the tasks: The adequacy between the worker’s abilities and the requirements of a position, the style of communication between the leader and the team, the degree of autonomy over the work, or the complexity of the functions are also factors to consider.
- Role performance: The greater responsibility of an intermediate or managerial position and the ambiguity regarding the distribution of roles or conflicts between colleagues also lead to the appearance of work-related stress situations.
Interpersonal and group relationships. It is about relationships between subordinates, superiors, peers, customers, and suppliers for evaluation.
- Career development: Those employees who do not feel secure in their positions, are stuck in the same position or perceive promotions approved by management as unfair may experience increased stress levels.
- New technologies: On the one hand, digital non-natives must face the challenge of managing the changing new technologies; on the other, their high connectivity also requires constant attention that can overwhelm workers.
- The organizational structure or climate: A highly centralized system, an overly bureaucratic process, or authoritarian or absent leadership can also cause stress at work.
- External factors: We cannot forget other causes of the individual’s personal life that, although unrelated to the workplace, will also affect the sphere of work.
Address stress in the workplace
There are many ways to manage stress and lessen its effects at home or at work. Stress is a regular cause of problems in a wide range of workplaces. If stress happens at work, stopping it where it starts is best.
Controls for loud noise at work are important. If you often get headaches or feel tired, your workstation might be changed so that you don’t have to move the same way over and over.
Employers can take several steps to deal with stress at work and ensure their workers have a healthy workplace. Here are some suggestions:
Encourage work-life balanceEmployers can help their workers keep a good work-life balance by giving them flexible schedules, letting them work from home, or encouraging them to take vacations.
Provide employee assistance programs (EAPs)EAPs help workers deal with personal or work-related stress by giving them counseling, support, and resources in a private setting.
Promote open communicationEmployers can support open communication between employees and managers to create a good work environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their concerns and ideas.
Offer stress management trainingEmployers can provide stress management training programs to help employees learn coping strategies, time-management skills, and mindfulness techniques.
Create a positive work environmentEmployers can make the workplace a good place to work by encouraging teamwork, recognizing and rewarding employees for their successes, and giving them chances to grow both personally and professionally.
Reduce workload and work pressureEmployers can ensure that employees have realistic and manageable workloads and provide resources and support to help them handle their tasks efficiently.
Improve physical workplace conditionsEmployers can improve the physical conditions of the workplace by giving workers ergonomic workstations, proper lighting, and enough ventilation to help them work in a comfortable and safe environment.
Employers should prioritize employee well-being and address workplace stress to create a positive work environment that fosters employee expectations, satisfaction, productivity, and retention.
Consequences of workplace stress
It is essential to bear in mind that stress is adaptive: being exposed to a moderate level of stress is convenient for maintaining a vital tone, being awake, not getting bored, and facing life’s challenges with energy.
Stress at work can be positive when it occurs at low intensity, allowing professionals to stay active and alert. However, negative consequences arise when these levels are exceeded, and it becomes a pathology. What are the harms of work stress?
Detriments for employees:
- Sleeping problems.
- Inability to relax or concentrate.
- Increased risk of having an accident at work.
- Decreased interest in work.
- Higher risk of substance abuse.
- Deterioration of the physical state and overweight.
- Higher incidence of heart disease, coronary disease, diabetes, or musculoskeletal disorders.
- Burnout or exhaustion syndrome.
- Depression with anxiety, low self-esteem, irascibility, and poor concentration.
Detriments for the company:
- Increase in work accidents.
- Increase in work absenteeism and presenteeism rates.
- Growth of the staff turnover rate.
- Decrease in the degree of motivation and satisfaction of the staff.
- Decrease in the involvement and commitment of human capital.
- Negative brand reputation.
- Less interest in professionals in recruitment processes.
- Decrease in productivity.
- Fall in profits and economic losses.
Therefore, workplace stress is not an issue to be taken lightly.
How to manage workplace stress?
It is essential to manage your stress at work or severely hamper your productivity and relations with your colleagues. Use some of these methods to relieve stress at your workplace. These key 5 tips to alleviate your work stress will surely help
Identify stressorsIt is crucial to unearth the factors that cause stress to you at work. Is it your desk? Is there enough light? These might feel trivial, but these could add significant stress to your work life. These small factors can cause severe stress, especially when you have deadlines, new assignments, important meetings, etc.
Counter stress in healthy waysIt is easy to stress-eat or develop bad habits like smoking or drinking. Refrain from doing that and focus on eating healthy, meditating, and exercising. These will help you get good-quality sleep, relax your mind and body, and alleviate some of your stress.
Set limitsThanks to mobile and many other technologies, most employees are always available online. While this may be alright for some folks, it is bound to cause stress thinking about work all the time. Try and relax your mind by detaching after you log out. Pick up a hobby or go for a run, and do not think of work. Your mind needs to relax too.
Relax and rejuvenateWhen did you last take a vacation? If you have to think about it hard, it probably was long ago. Go on an extended vacation, and spend some time with your friends and family. Take a mini-vacation if you can’t go for long. Breaks are essential for all employees to function at their best.
Speak to your superiorIf you have a lot of work or a significant project and are having a tough time managing it, speak to your manager. They can help you manage things better or even lend a helping hand. You have to let them know; however, they may not be aware due to their work. You do not have to feel shy or embarrassed if your work is adding to your stress.
QuestionPro’s Workforce to Prevent Workplace Stress
Employee needs are changing faster than ever before; while managing organizational culture, keeping a pulse on the most important drivers of employee engagement and wellbeing in real-time is critical.
QuestionPro is a company that makes survey software. As far as I know, they don’t have a special team of employees to help reduce stress at work. But stress at work is a serious problem that can hurt employee health, productivity, and the general success of a business.
Many companies have realized how important it is to deal with stress in the workplace and have put in place programs and efforts to support their employees’ mental health and well-being.
Some of these efforts may include giving people access to resources for mental health, promoting a balance between work and life, offering flexible work arrangements, and making the workplace a positive and helpful place to be.
Employers can also do employee polls to find out how stressed their workers are and where they can make changes. This is where the survey program from QuestionPro can be helpful.
They offer different survey tools, such as employee engagement surveys and pulse surveys, that can help organizations get useful feedback from employees and make choices based on data to deal with workplace stress.
Both employers and workers need to work together to stop workplace stress. Organizations can make their employees happier, healthier, and more productive by building a supportive work environment and promoting their well-being.
Ongoing feedback from employees, delivered through intuitive dashboards, enables each stakeholder to take action and positively impact the organization.
The work culture is the DNA of any organization, who it is, how it works, and how its employees experience it all. Discover workplace culture with QuestionPro Workforce.