In the modern world, workplace stress is more unavoidable than ever before. Things are faster paced, more demanding, and competition only gets greater as the speed at which we can communicate and send-and-receive information increases, making markets more global as technology improves.
The frequencies at which we work weekends, work nights, and toil during social hours, grows in line with the demands of ever-increasing consumer populations, and with a higher incidence of business dealings and trading being conducted across time zones. For workers within these modern systems of business and industry, it can all seem very much like being on a treadmill.
What Causes Stress in the Workplace?
The World Health Organization cites several main factors for causing excessive levels of stress to individuals within workforces. They point to the content of work, which too often includes meaningless tasks and a lack of variety, and work-loads and the speeds at which work is expected to be carried out, as being major causes of stress for workforces.
Working hours being strict or inflexible, or long and unsocial, are also pulled up for being a big culprit when it comes to anxiety for employees. Unpredictable and badly defined hours of labor, which make social activity outside of work difficult, along with the lack of any availability for participation in, and control of decision making, also feature in their concerns.
The WHO also cites work context as being a major agitator in whipping up workplace stress. Lack of career development and the resulting stagnancy of status and pay can be a massive factor in causing anxiety and insecurity among employees. It’s natural for humans to want to feel valued and respected by their peers.
Bullying and harassment at work, or a more general culture of bullying, can also be a huge cause of stress for workers.
What Can You Do to Ease Workplace Stress?
Some stress at work can be productive, it can be stimulating and make tasks more exciting when the levels are healthy. But, what can you do to help yourself when the levels get too high?
One great option is finding a hobby that you love. Doing something that’s far removed from your usual working duties can be a great stress reliever, and if you’re the sporty type, it can be a fantastic way to interact with people and make new friendships.
Another way to reduce stress is to draw a line in the sand. Don’t be afraid to set limits when it comes to making yourself available for work. Some bosses will just keep taking if you let them, so define reasonable terms for yourself.
Next, don’t be afraid to talk to your boss. Sit down with your supervisor and discuss regular goals and objectives so that you can work toward them and break up the monotony of work. It can be very satisfying when you hit a target, and even if there’s no bonus, it’ll break up the week or the day.
And finally, grab a coffee. Just take a break now and again. Walking away from your workstation occasionally can be a great way to recharge and to unwind.
The Costs of Workplace Stress
It’s estimated that stress in the workplace, and associated levels of absenteeism, costs business and the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. And that’s not to mention what it costs employees. It’s widely recognized that stress can be a major causal factor in everything from suicide rates, to cardiovascular and mental health risks.
The benefits available to both employers and employees that actively engage in reducing levels of stress in the workplace can be huge, both in terms of productivity and in the health and wellbeing of workforces. Occupational health is very much a preventative pursuit these days, and there’s a good reason for that.
If you’re an employee and you’re experiencing stress in the workplace, talk to your supervisor – it’s worth a shot. The rewards, on a personal level, and also with regard to the profits of the whole business, can be well worth the effort it takes to make some changes. If you still need a reminder of why it’s so important, check out this infographic about workplace stress:
About the Author
Elisa Ortiz: Elisa started her career as a paralegal but has since developed a passion for understanding credit and personal finance which she now shares through the content she creates.