Stress in the workplace can pose a significant threat to the health of a company’s employees and business in general. In fact, studies show that 75% of all employees believe that job stress has increased in recent years, and 25% of employees consider their jobs to be the most stressful aspect of their lives. Stress resulting from problems at work is at fault for more health problems than any other stressor, including family issues and financial concerns.
By definition, job stress is the emotional and physical response that occurs when an individual’s job requirements do not match his or her needs, resources, or capabilities. When an employee experiences ongoing job stress, he may develop injuries or health problems. According to studies, the most common cause of job stress is an overly demanding work environment.
Some employees will naturally experience less job stress than others do. Employees who are less likely to experience stress from work are typically those who have a solid support system of family and friends and a balance between work and personal life. Employees may also avoid stress if they have a positive and relaxed outlook on life in general.
To prevent employee injury, it is imperative that business owners monitor employee stress levels and alter working conditions accordingly. If multiple employees are experiencing problems with job stress, it is likely that the conditions at work are in need of improvement. Common work environment issues that may lead to job stress include improper task designs, bad management styles, lack of interpersonal relationships at work, uncertain expectations, job insecurity, and unpleasant environmental conditions.
When employees are exhibiting signs of stress, the first step in resolving the problem is to determine the nature of the stressor. If poor task design is the cause of the stress, workers may benefit from shorter shifts or more rest breaks. If workers are unhappy with the company’s management style or the lack of interpersonal relationships, they may benefit from more participation in the company’s decisions, more support from supervisors, and a better social environment. When uncertain job expectations are the cause of stress, the solution often involves clarification of employee job descriptions. If employees are stressed because of job insecurity, business owners can make efforts to be open with employees about their future with the company. Finally, if employee stress results from a hazardous or an uncomfortable work environment, business owners should try to address employee concerns and make improvements when necessary.
In some cases, an employee who wasn’t previously experiencing job stress may become stressed because of a change in the circumstances his or her personal life, such as a family member’s chronic illness or the birth of a new child. In such instances, the increase in stress from home can cause the employee to feel uneasy about meeting expectations at work. To cope with this type of job stress, employers should make an effort to accommodate the employee’s needs whenever possible. In many cases, these changes are only temporary. However, if ignored, external stressors may elevate job stress to an unhealthy level.