Workplace stress is a real and growing concern. In fact, it’s believed to be one of the main factors stopping people from doing their best at work. Our stress-levels can be affected by a whole range of issues like heavy workloads, long hours, difficult working relationships with colleagues or managers, harassment or lack of opportunities. The good news is that with the right policies in place, employers can help minimise the impact and keep the wellbeing of the workforce on track.
Stress is a pretty vague concept and one that’s hard to define. It covers a spectrum of different experiences and is often misunderstood. The myths and misconceptions that surround the condition make it difficult to understand and can make it harder to deal with it effectively. So what are the myths and realities of workplace stress?
Why should we be worried about it?
Simply put, stress is bad for our health.
It’s been linked to a number of different health issues; most commonly physical problems like back pain, high blood pressure and heart disease. And of course it’s also a serious factor in mental ill-health, contributing to debilitating psychological problems like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Is stress always a bad thing?
It’s a bit of a balancing act when it comes to stress. Arguably a bit of pressure at work can be good thing; it can often bring out the best in people. Too much strain, on the other hand, can become an issue if it reaches the tipping point where a person’s just no longer able to cope.
How can employers address the problem?
Ensure clear policies are in place – creating a good working atmosphere and supportive managers is the best way to minimise stress at work, so its important for employers to have policies in place on issues like bullying, harassment, attendance and performance management. Workplace stress is likely to be much higher if these policies don’t exist.
Talk about it – addressing the warning signs, like absence from work, and having a conversation about them is an excellent way to head problems off early.
Be proactive - A lot of workplaces are now implementing Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs). EAPs are set up to offer employees a range of support services like short-term counselling, which can help them deal with problems that might impact their health and wellbeing at work. They aim to make sure work is part of the solution, not the problem.
Common Causes of stress at work
1. Organisational change
2. Lack of control
3. Lack of training
4. Monotonous work
6. Poor working environment
8. Job insecurity
9. Too much or too little to do
10. Long hours
11. Unrealistic deadlines
12. Lack of support
13. Lack of recognition and reward
14. Working patterns
15. Conflicting roles
16. Conflicting work and home demands
17. Poor promotion prospects
18. Poor communication
19. Information overload