Stress, Part 2: Is it work?
Do you often leave work with sore muscles, a headache, eye strain, or complete mental exhaustion?
If so, you could be one of the many individuals suffering from workplace stress.
Not surprising, stress is rampant in the workplace, and in a study cited by the APA, 65% of employees listed work as a top stressor in their lives. And physical symptoms aren’t the only complications. There is a high possibility of irritability, sleepless nights, anxiety, depression, lack of focus, memory loss, and a myriad of other things.
Where does all the stress come from?
Low salaries, excessive workloads, few opportunities for growth or advancement, not having enough control over job-related decisions, work that isn't engaging or challenging, lack of social support, and unclear expectations regarding performance and job duties are a few of the primary culprits.
So, what can be done?
There is a two-fold front that should be used to combat workplace stress.
First, between the health issues, mood disturbances, and strain on relationships that stress can cause, individuals should be motivated to lower their stress levels. Even of those motivated, many don’t know how. There are many steps that could help. It is recommended that people log their stress, evaluate it, and apply techniques to decrease the stress or change their outlook on the situation. For more information on this, please see “Part 3: Stress Reduction Strategies”.
Second, there is a large enough impact on the work environment and productivity that employers should also be motivated to help their employees...
Stress is causing companies to lose money to lost work days, (550 million days are lost each year due to stress on the job)1, worksite injuries, and employee turnover, with stress costing companies on average 300 billion dollars a year.
Employers must acknowledge the possibility of stressors and their impact in the work environment. Reading relevant articles can be helpful. Consultation regarding stress and the workplace can also be of benefit. Just reading this article shows interest/concern about your workplace and is a good starting point.
Employers need to identify which employees are dealing with the most stress and determine what is contributing to those stress levels. Stress assessments are incredibly beneficial in determining the stress levels of individuals as well as trends in the company as a whole.
Good communication skills can positively impact the work environment and lower the overall stress levels. Communication skills can be enhanced through workplace training, further consultation, and practice. Once the company trends have been ascertained, a series of strategies can be implemented to address each of the challenges.
And finally, employers should lead by example by establishing appropriate boundaries, seeking counseling when needed, following healthy nutritional, exercise, and sleep guidelines, and taking time off as needed.
In conclusion, both the employee and the employer have options and responsibilities in decreasing the stress both on an individual level and throughout the workplace.