workplace stress | factors and how to overcome it
Work-related stress is a growing problem around the world that affects not only the health and well-being of employees but also the productivity of businesses.
Work-related stress arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope. According to Better Health, Work-related stress is the second common illness/injury in Australia, following musculoskeletal disorders
Work-related stress factors
Organizational culture is the selection of values, expectations, and practices which guides and informs the actions of all team members. This ultimately shapes employee perceptions, behaviours and understanding in the workplace
BAD MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Management practice is an important factor in creating a work culture and environment. Bad management practices can develop conflict in the workplace including, workplace bullying, power abuse (e.g., using fear to motivate people), ignoring good performance from team members and conducting ineffective meetings.
JOB CONTENT & DEMANDS
Job contents and demands such as work overload or pressure can be a huge impact on your mental wellbeing. Being overly pressured and overloaded with work can cause high stress for employees. Stress can lower a person’s productivity, focus and motivation to complete their job content and demands.
PHYSICAL WORK ENVIRONMENT
Numerous studies have demonstrated that characteristics of the physical office environment can have a significant effect on the behaviour, perceptions and productivity of employees. This is especially for office employees who often spend a lot of their time inside their environment. The physical environments influence their well-being and directly influence their work performance and productivity. The atmosphere of the building should have the right room temperature, enough air quality, good lighting and low noise conditions in the office for better work concentration and productivity.
RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK
Building networks, connections and positive relationships at work are important. Having a workplace environment that acts as a team rather than individually makes employees feel they are supported by their employers and employees. This builds their confidence, therefore their productivity. However, if employees feel a lack of support in their workplace there can be disengagement in the workplace. Hence, the work environment will naturally be disconnected and less productive.
Sudden change in management and work environment can be stressful especially for long term existing employees who have been with the company. Typical changes that negatively impact a portion of the employees are salary cuts, loss of benefits, downgrading in job position, job loss or relocation to another city, state or country. This can create job insecurity for employees and can result in negative impacts on their mental health (p)
According to Safework, poorly defined or conflicted roles in a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) can be a stressor for workers. Poor role definition arises from a lack of clarity in workers’ objectives, key accountabilities, their co-workers’ expectations of them and the overall scope or responsibilities of their job. Role conflict occurs when a worker is required to perform a role that goes against their values or when their job demands are incompatible. (p)
This can include:
Events such as death, grief, suicide, accident or injury
Organizational such as bullying, threats, harassment, betrayal, maliciousness, extreme isolation, chronic pressure, unresolved conflict, toxic work environment, uncertainty, fear for the future, downsizing or fear of unemployment
Physical stressors such as noise, chaotic environment, sense of no control over space, fear for physical safety, harsh or flashing lights, extremes of heat or cold, working amid construction, and other adverse physical conditions
External threats such as evacuation, lockdown, fire or robbery
These factors can affect the company's budget, employee turnover and overall profits. Moreover, A decrease in productivity and morale are signs employees may be struggling with the leadership being given. If employees have an effective leader and a good workplace structure or environment, there will also be better performance in hand. Hence, a greater profit for the organization.
Ways to overcome workplace stress
TRACK YOU STRESSORS
Keep a journal to identify which circumstances create the most stress and how you respond or react to them. Jot down your thoughts, feelings, and details about the environment, including the people involved.
DEVELOP HEALTHY RESPONSES
Any form of physical activity is beneficial. Also, make time for hobbies and activities. Getting enough good-quality sleep is also important for effective stress management
ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES & RECHARGE
Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. In today’s world, many people are addicted to their mobile or computer devices, checking emails and social media content. According to a study from NCBI, social media use can increase levels of anxiety and depression. Hence, This may mean a rule not to go on social media unless checking on your phone for very important matters. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating some clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it
TALK TO YOUR SUPERVISOR
Begin an open conversation with your supervisor. The intent is not to show a list of complaints but to come up with an effective plan for managing the stressors you have identified, to perform best at your job
Your employer may also have stress management resources available through an employee assistance program, including online information, and referral to mental health professionals. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviour. If you are experiencing workplace stress and want to speak to someone now, our Cyber Clinic app can connect you with a psychologist through your phone and skip the wait time. Our services include medicare rebates.