Workplace Stress

Employment or workplace stress refers to the stressful situations we deal with at work. Most of us have to work, so why do many of us find it a stressful experience?

The days of the easy life are gone for most of us, as far as work and employment is concerned. But, one thing is certain. It is not going to get better, so you need to prepare yourself with a plan to combat stress at work.

One of the minus factors of wanting better things for yourself, is the fact that generally you have to do more to get it!

If you are an employer, then you will require more from your staff as you try to compete in this globalized economy. If you are an employee, you may be asked – forced – to do more for the same or less pay.

The ‘competition’ at all levels will invariably be more intense than it has ever been. We must deal with the general economical problems and the normal commercial-based problems out there.

Making Tough Decisions at Work

There are always some difficult decisions to make – and accept. If you are not part of the decision making process, then this will affect you more than those taking the decisions (in most cases).

At all times, remember that workplace stress can lead to illness and long term health problems. You should do whatever you can to reduce any untoward situations that can cause stress at work. Otherwise, it will spill over into your general life.

Not only for you, but your friends and family will inevitably suffer too. hat in turn will lead to more problems – and further stressful situations!

Causes of Stress at Work

All of the foregoing – and many other aspects to do with work – will be a feeding ground for tension and stress. The problems at your place of employment can include:

  • Increasing conflict. Overzealousness or ‘competition’ in the workplace can cause it as others strive to impress!
  • Juggling time. Too many things to do – multi-tasking is the norm – ever increasing demands upon your time. This is now a commonplace cause of employment workplace stress.
  • Change of routines. Change in working methods and management techniques is a certainty. Sometimes they get forced upon you instead of being part of a discussion.
  • Pay and profit margins. Everyone has bills to pay. Company cash-flow can cause problems for management, salary increases – once the norm – have been frozen.
  • Responsibility. Before, you could simply get on with your job in more or less your own time. Now there seems to be added responsibilities creeping in. Can you deal with them?
  • Loss of control. Work methods have changed and are sure to continue changing. What was once your area of ‘control’ seems to be slipping away from you.
  • Environmental Aspects. The workplace environment might be on a downward spiral due to using the resources elsewhere. You might be putting up with inferior surrounds or practices. You may also have concerns about bringing the matter to the attention of those that matter.
  • Isolation can creep in almost unnoticed, as others are in the same situation as you, and are unable to spare that little bit of time at the watering hole! For example, has your employment workplace changed to cause a physical isolation?
  • The reverse of feeling isolated, is the fact that you have lost your privacy. Maybe as a result of economies, you now have to share an office area, or one of the wonder-boys has decided that ‘open-plan’ offices are the way to go. These can have benefits as well as loss of privacy benefits.
  • Absenteeism among staff causes many problems now that there has been slimming down of the workforce. Stress induced absenteeism is on the increase. It is almost certain that the problems that led to the absenteeism with persist once there is a return to work.

Every business – and person – will have their own set of problems to deal with. There is little room for manoeuvre anymore. Those days have gone – seemingly forever!

These are a classic sample of workplace changes that lead to stress related illness. But, you CAN do something about it.

Reducing Workplace Stress

All too often, stress is seen as a motivational factor in the workplace. Often, it results in disasters, both for the employee and ultimately for the business. In many instances, you will be ‘on your own’, in trying to resolve stressful situations. This happens to large companies as well as small or medium sized businesses.

Many larger companies have realised that undue stress in the workplace can eventually affect the bottom line. The bottom line of course, is the driving and motivational factor to all levels of management.

Very often, companies will subscribe in theory to good working environment and practices. But, throughout the managements system, there is always the need to be more commercially competitive. The fact that work related stress is one of the main causes of absence from work, has not fully percolated through the system.

Stress or Pressure?

As an employee, there are several things to consider. Try to assess whether you are suffering stress at work or is it a bit of pressure. Pressure is normal in today’s business environment – as it is in normal life.

A bit of pressure usually complements efficiency, and can be a motivational factor. The stress reaction helps us to deal with, or sometimes utilize, that pressure in order to perform well.

But, using pressure as a relentless management tool creates personal stress and becomes an issue. Often, it is inefficient management techniques that bring about pressure in the workplace!

Handling or Reducing Workplace Stress

First of all, it is important to identify the actual cause of the stress. Be honest with yourself. Can you be certain you are not bringing your own personal stress into the workplace.

Experts say you should not take your work problems home. The reverse is true also. You should not take your personal problems to work.

But of course, we are all humans to varying degrees, and it happens. Assess this possibility. If it seems on reflection that you have stressors in your personal life as well as at work, then you are well on the way to suffering chronic stress. You have to take action.

Assuming then, that we simply have a stress problem at work, how do we go about reducing the problem and the stress that it causes?

Most, but not all, stress at work is caused by the actual working environment, rather than the work you are actually paid to do! If this is the case in your own instance, it is probably good news, in that a little bit of action on your own part, discussion, or negotiation, can often either solve or relieve the stress caused.

Do NOT take a confrontational stance about the problem. Most people – even managers – are usually helpful if approached in the right way.

Managers after all, have a ‘duty’ in these days of health and safety awareness, to ensure that you have a good, safe, environment in which to work. Don’t remind them of that fact at the onset of any discussions! Remember that you nearly always have the law on your side.

People Problems in the Workplace!