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Workplace Stress: A Huge Issue For Companies Worldwide

11 min read
Last Updated on 14 May, 2024

“Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea.” ~ Frederick Saunders

Workplace stress is a global issue affecting employers and employees due to conflicting work demands and controls. Concerns about how it may affect workplace culture and productivity have grown.

Stress is an inevitable aspect of working life for most Americans and substantially contributes to job satisfaction. Effective management of work-related stress requires an understanding of it.

This article explores the complexities of job stress, including its causes, significant effects, and useful coping mechanisms. Gaining insight into these areas helps promote healthier work environments and enhance the quality of professional life.

What is Workplace Stress?

What is Workplace Stress

Workplace stress refers to responses when an employee does not meet the job demands and requirements.

Stress is one of the most significant psychological hazards in the workplace. It results from economic, social, physical, and emotional factors that need a response to change. It can pose a risk to your employees’ mental and physical health. It can also cause injury.

In recent times, stress in the workplace has increased throughout the world. In fact, according to the American Institute of Stress, 83% of workers in the US suffer from work-related stress.

Work stress causes employees to experience workplace depression and anxiety due to demanding jobs and strict deadlines.

Notable Stats About Workplace Stress

Notable Stats About Workplace Stress

Workplace Stress is fast becoming a matter of grave concern among employers and professionals. Here are some worrying statistics from The American Institute of Stress that point to the same fact:

  • Businesses in the US lose upto $300 billion dollars in a year due to loss in productvity caused by stress in the workplace.
  • Health complications because of work stress leads to a staggering spending of $190 billions in healthcare in a year in the US.
  • One million workers remain absent from work every day because of work stress.
  • 63% of US Workers are ready to quit their job because of the stress the suffer at work.
  • 54% of respondents in a study said that workplace stress hampers their life at home as well.
  • For Americans, work-related pressures remain among the top-three sources of stress.
  • 66% of workers in America suffered from sleep deprivation because of work stress and it impacted their work performance.
  • 75% of a worker's annual salary is spent on covering up for lost productivity caused by stress.

Signs and Symptoms of Workplace Stress

Workplace stress manifests itself in various ways. While some of these signs and symptoms are quite evident and visible on the surface, others are not.
However, it is important to be aware of these symptoms so that you can take the necessary steps to fight them.

Some signs and symptoms of stress are:

  1. Persistent work-fatigue: Constantly feeling exhausted despite getting a full night's sleep; this is a sign of stress-related tiredness.
  2. Decreased concentration: The inability to concentrate on a task results in less output and more mistakes.
  3. Insomnia: Insomnia occurs when you cannot fall asleep due to anxiety or racing thoughts about work-related issues.
  4. Irritability: Excessive sensitivity to small problems or disturbances and impatience and irritation.
  5. Social withdrawal: Avoidance of coworkers and social contacts in favor of solitude at work.
  6. Alteration in eating patterns: Abrupt shifts in hunger that result in either binge eating or losing interest in food.
  7. Physical ailments: Recurrent headaches, tense muscles, or stomach issues that don't seem to have a medical explanation.
  8. Increased absenteeism: Taking more sick days or missing work without cause because of stress-related illnesses.
  9. Ignoring one's duties: Missing deadlines, skipping out on responsibilities, and forgetting assignments because of extreme stress.
  10. Emotional tiredness: Experiencing emotional exhaustion, losing interest, and struggling to maintain motivation at work.

Factors Causing Workplace Stress

Both physical and emotional problems can cause high stress in the workplace.

The source of stress may be a problem in the workplace or a personal event or problem.

Both physical and emotional problems can cause high stress in the workplace.
The source of stress may be a problem in the workplace or a personal event or problem.

Here are some factors that cause workplace stress:

  • Job insecurity:
    Fear of losing one's job due to layoffs or restructuring creates constant anxiety and stress.

  • Lack of control:
    Limited influence over decisions and processes can make employees feel powerless and anxious.

  • Workplace bullying:
    Employees who are the targets of bullying or harassment experience extreme stress at work.

  • Lack of employee recognition and rewards:
    The lack of appreciation for hard work and achievements can result in feelings of undervaluation and stress.

  • Lack of employee engagement:
    Stress levels increase when workers feel disconnected from their jobs, their coworkers, or the company's objectives. This leads to apathy and disengagement.

  • Lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace:
    Lack of diversity and exclusionary practices can make workers feel alone and marginalized, greatly increasing workplace stress.

  • No work-life balance:
    Stress levels rise when there is an inability to reconcile obligations in both professional and personal life.

  • Low employee morale:
    Employees who lack recognition or aren't motivated at work can create stress and bring down the work environment's positivity.

  • Interpersonal problems and conflict:
    Office politics, strained relationships, and disagreements create stress at work.

  • Limited career growth:
    Employees who experience stagnation and few job opportunities sometimes feel stressed and depressed.

The Impact of Workplace Stress on Employee Health and Productivity

Stressors at work can be categorized as either physical or psychosocial. Physical stressors include things like -

  • Poor lighting
  • Noisy environments
  • Poorly designed workspaces
  • Ergonomic issues
  • Incorrect sitting postures

Read for more information: Workplace Ergonomics: Benefits And Ways To Improve It

Perhaps the most common types of stressors are psychosocial ones. Some reasons for this problem include long working hours, rigid schedules, faulty systems, mistreatment, and job insecurity.

Stress at work has a negative impact on employees as well as the performance of the firm. The consequences of stress at work are seen in employees' behavior, mental health, and physical health.

Hazards of Workplace Stress on Physical Health:

Hazards of Workplace Stress on Physical Health

Stress at work can cause physical health issues like headaches, exhaustion, and tense muscles. People may become more susceptible to infections due to a weakened immune system.

Risks of Workplace Stress on Mental Health:

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Workplace stress can contribute to mental health problems like depression and anxiety. It can impact a person's general well-being by changing how they feel, think, and do their everyday business.

Productivity Losses Linked to Stress at Work:

Stressed-out workers could find concentrating difficult, resulting in errors and lower output. They could struggle to finish assignments quickly and miss deadlines, impairing their job's caliber and pace.

All kinds of stress impact you, which is reflected in your work performance. Your productivity will still suffer if you're under financial stress.

The Effects of Workplace Stress

Undergoing some stress in our day-to-day lives is normal. However, prolonged stress poses a threat to our health and well-being.

Stress in the workplace affects both employees and employers.

It impacts one’s ability to cope with situations and tasks and feel good. Besides, it negatively impacts the employee health and wellbeing, causing a loss of output and productivity.

Increased stress among employees results in increased employee turnover and absenteeism. Furthermore, stress can have long-term effects on your employees in general.

Causes of Workplace Stress
Being stressed at work is feeling overwhelmed by demands and pressures that exceed one's knowledge, skills, and abilities. Workplace stress is frequently inevitable, and some people may even view a certain stress level as beneficial.

But when that pressure gets too much, it can lead to burnout, which is bad for an employee's performance and health.

Workplace stress can arise from various sources, including individual factors and organizational conditions. Here's a brief overview of the common causes of workplace stress:

Common Causes of Stress at Work:

Excessive Workload:

Stress can be caused by excessive demands, lengthy hours, or impractical deadlines that overwhelm workers.

Loss of Control:

Workers who have little control over their assignments, deadlines, or working styles could become anxious.

Poor work-life Balance:

Stress can result from a work-life imbalance, particularly if people struggle to balance the two.

Social Disagreements:

Employees who are exposed to toxic work environments, bullying, harassment, or workplace disagreements may experience chronic stress.

Unclear Expectations:

Stress and uncertainty might result from unclear employment positions, responsibilities, or performance standards.

Job Insecurity:

Employees' stress and anxiety may be exacerbated by the possibility of layoffs or loss of employment.

Not Enough Resources:

Inadequate tools, equipment, or coworker help might make it more difficult to do your work and raise your stress levels.

Concerns about Career Development:

It can be stressful to feel stuck in a job with no chance of progress or to have no growth chances.

Individual Factors That May Induce Stress at Work:

Personal Features:

Stress at work may be more common in those with perfectionist tendencies, low self-esteem, or high anxiety levels.

Coping Skills:

Workplace stress can be worsened by inadequate coping strategies or an incapacity to manage stress properly.

Personal Problems:

Stress can arise from personal concerns that affect one's family or finances and can affect one's performance at work.

Health Issues:

Being sick frequently or for an extended period of time can increase the likelihood of experiencing stress. This is particularly true when illness interferes with one's ability to work.

Organizational Factors That Can Contribute to Workplace Stress:

Improper Guidance:

A stressful work environment can be brought about by incompetent or unsupportive management.

Insufficient Communication:

Stress and confusion can result from poor communication channels or opaque decision-making procedures.

Inadequate Reward:

A lack of recognition, inadequate perks, or low pay can make workers unhappy and stressed out.

Impractical Expectations:

A lack of time and resources can lead to stress among employees when their goals and targets are unrealistic.

Work Design:

When a job is poorly organized, there is a lack of independence, diversity, and opportunities for skill development.

Roles and responsibilities

You push yourself to the limit and risk burnout when you wear too many hats. It keeps you overly occupied, and you begin to work long hours instead of taking breaks for relaxation. However, setting professional limits will be easier if you know your tasks and duties.

Workplace Regulations:

Anxiety might be increased by unclear or unfair procedures about promotions, leave, and performance reviews.

Ways to Combat Workplace Stress

Reduced stress levels in the workplace equal to increased productivity. It increases job satisfaction and also decreases employee turnover.

There are many steps that an employer can take to combat workplace stress.
To combat stress, an employer must first understand workplace stressors.

Here are some steps one can take to combat extremely stressful workplace situations-

Promote Physical Exercise among Employees

Being fit and healthy equates to lower levels of stress and a better quality of life.

Promote Physical Exercise among Employees

Regular exercise increases your employees’ ability to cope with stress as well.

Cardio exercises like walking, running, or cycling increase energy levels and strengthen the body and also the mind. Moreover, they lift one’s moods and increase concentration and focus.

Resistance training also has a similar impact on one’s mood levels. For instance, a study found that resistance training improves the moods of people with depression.

Promote Good Nutritional Habits

Good nutrition also plays an important role in maintaining good health.

Promote Good Nutritional Habits

One must adopt healthy food habits to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Good nourishment replenishes the energy levels of the body. It also helps maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

These are some tips to make the most of your food choices:

Reduce the Consumption of Stimulants such as Alcohol and Caffeine.

As per National Library of Medicine, stimulants affect the central nervous system by causing one to be more alert and energetic. They may also make one feel more pleasured and invigorated. Moreover, they affect the body’s ability to sleep and recuperate, causing stress.

Reduce the consumption of simple sugars like refined flour and candies.

Simple sugars with high GI cause a rapid spike and a consequent drop in the insulin and blood sugar levels. This is called a sugar crash which can have negative health effects.

Avoid Smoking.

The nicotine in cigarettes has a stimulating effect on the body. It also causes anxiety and stress.

Drink More Water.

Water is a substance that is essential for sustaining life. Sufficient Water intake removes stress-causing toxins from the body through urine.

Increase the Consumption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids such as Fatty Fish and Walnuts.

Omega-3 fatty acids have an astounding amount of health benefits including anti-inflammatory effects. Cellular inflammation in the brain is one of the main causes of anxiety among people. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, uplifting mood.

Get Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep helps to rejuvenate the body and mind and also replenishes energy levels. Missing out on quality sleep disrupts concentration and focus. Moreover, it makes us irritable and stressed.

Getting enough sleep is very important. One should aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

Also, avoid exposure to electronic devices at night. They emit blue light which suppresses the melatonin production of the body, disrupting sleep.

Avoid stimulating activities and foods before going to sleep. Furthermore, reading books in a dimly lighted room or listening to relaxing music can also help you fall asleep quicker.

More things you can do as an employer to combat stress in the workplace are-

  • Promote time management among employees.
  • Promote employee engagement in the workplace.
  • Increase time limits for completing tasks.
  • Clarify goals and responsibilities.
  • Ensure the work matches the employee’s qualifications and skills.
  • Provide regular breaks at work.
  • Promote employee participation in decision making.
  • Give out rewards for completing tasks.
  • Create opportunities for career development.
  • Train employees with stress management skills.
  • Promote social interaction among employees.
  • Conduct health screening tests to track symptoms of stress.
  • Provide health services to employees affected by stress.
  • End bullying and discrimination in the workplace.
  • Eliminate physical and occupational hazards.
  • Promote the use of safety equipment for occupation safety and health.
  • Learning and utilizing ways to measure levels of stress in your employees

Mindstrong Health uses an app to monitor people's thinking abilities and emotions by studying their phone habits. This is done by measuring the way a person types, scrolls, or taps while using other applications.

The data is analyzed and encrypted through machine learning. Furthermore, the results are sent to the patients and their medical providers. Also, by monitoring the details from the app, medical providers get to know if there is something wrong with their patients.

According to Mindstrong Health, the way people interact with their phones offers interesting clues to their mental health.

Final Words

Stress in the workplace is common throughout the world. The ever-increasing demands at work combined with a lack of good health cause stress among employees.

Workplace stress is harmful to employers and employees alike. It is important for employers to take steps to combat stress.

Furthermore, stress-free workplaces are more productive and happy in general. Without stress, the quality of life also improves. Lastly, a stress-free work environment creates a balance between work and life.

FAQ

Q.1 What is the main cause of workplace stress?

The main cause of workplace stress often revolves around factors such as excessive workload, lack of job security, poor work-life balance, interpersonal conflicts, and insufficient support from management.

Q.2 What are the signs of stress at work?

Signs of stress at work may include increased irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, decreased job satisfaction, and physical symptoms like headaches or stomach issues.

Q.3 How do you get rid of stress in the workplace?

To reduce workplace stress, individuals can practice effective time management, set realistic goals, communicate openly with colleagues, take breaks, engage in relaxation techniques, and seek support from supervisors or employee assistance programs.

Q.4 What are the effects of work stress?

Work stress can lead to various negative effects, including decreased productivity, impaired physical and mental health, strained relationships, burnout, and increased absenteeism. Persistent stress may contribute to long-term health problems if not addressed.

Besides working as a content marketer at Vantage Circle, Shah Alif Ahmed is also an internationally certified nutrition specialist, competitive bodybuilder and a musician. For any queries reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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