Our work life is full of frustrations, deadlines, and demands. For many people, there is no division between work and home life. The stress from work can be motivating, push you past your comfort zone and help you do your best or it can be overwhelming, damaging to your health, have negative effects on your mood, disrupt relationships and reduce the quality of life. Is your personal well-being feeling the impact of stress at work? Work stress can be seen in tension, carelessness, difficulty sleeping, absenteeism, depression and constant looking for other jobs. This article reviews the causes of stress in the workplace and is a guide to help you in managing work-related stress.
The actual causes of work-related stress vary wildly. However, the huge size of employees who suffer from workplace stress often cite the same and most dominant stressors time and again. It is imperative therefore that we understand such major causes of workplace stressors as outlined below.
A list of work requirements that exceed the person’s ability to manage them. E-mails, projects, excessive meetings, too little time, managing too many departments. Work overload happens when too much information is given to the employee in order to meet productivity requirements.
Before you’re overloaded, try to maintain control over your projects. It is not fair for the company or you to have unrealistic expectations of work demands. Set boundaries, say No, or reduce the quality of work. What can you do if you are continuously pressured in an unrealistic environment? You can make small adjustments to make a workload more manageable. Just because your job may be chaotic and unorganized doesn’t mean you have to be.
Start by becoming more organized within your work environment. Working in a more organized space, allows the brain to free up energy that would otherwise be preoccupied and distracted in a messy office. Tasks are much easier to accomplish as well if you know where your things are and are at ease. Prioritize your tasks by focusing on the three most important things that need to be done for the day. Then choose three things that need to be done in that week and then for that month. Focus on accomplishing these important tasks first. Many people just focus on the easiest tasks first, which might help them get done but they may not be the best use of their time.
Bosses who bully are more likely to cause individuals to make more mistakes, take sick time when not sick, hide from their bosses, and slow down their work. Bullying bosses create unnecessary pressure and drain the worker from reaching their full potential. Bullying happens in many forms in the workplace, often by the same people seen bullying their peers as children. Bosses who bully may yell at employees, make threats, embarrass their workers, use excessive criticism, ignore or require the employee to complete tasks that place their job at risk.
Bullying bosses can be receptive to positive reinforcement and others modeling good behavior. When your boss is treating you respectfully, comment on how much you like what they are doing. Remain calm during their tantrums and be a good role model for them. If you remain unsure about your bullying boss, speak to a human resources representative. Gather and use your support system to help you cope with them, these can either be coworkers or friends and family.
Planning out how much time a given task will take may help give you a more accurate and reasonable perception of what deadline is needed. From there, you can try to negotiate a later deadline. Explain how you need to get this and that done and what date you reasonably expect to have it completed based on your calculations.
Check in with yourself when you are completing the project. Are you working reasonably? Or are you focused on perfection? Maybe you are not focused at all and have been distracted and have been unable to put 100% into the project. Lastly, are you working as efficiently as you can? A good rule of thumb is to plan out twice as much time as you think you need initially when planning a project.
Long hours due to commute time, and productivity requirements contribute to the problem. Excessive hours seated at a desk reduces time for physical activity or a social life. Long hours at work can cause unhappiness about the time devoted to work. Spending too much time at the office and neglecting other aspects of life increases vulnerability to mental health problems. Long hours create a snowball effect, meaning the more hours you contribute at work the more hours you spend worrying or thinking about work when outside of work.
Give yourself structure in regards to time limits for finishing certain tasks. Consider the link between long hours and mental disorders seriously by scheduling time for yourself as well. Naturally manage work related stress by taking adequate breaks by going on a walk and enjoying the sunshine.
Downsizing, poor organization, inadequate training, employee capabilities, inefficient administration, outdated/underperforming technology and other shortages. There can be confusion amongst the roles of managers and employees within the company that can cause tension. When there is tension, and no one to go to for help, frustrations increase even more. Managers are a key resource in problem-solving in the workplace. Poor management may generate more stress based on the job type.
Employers should look to increase resources that help worker’s personal characteristics such as coping skills (problem solving, assertiveness, time management) and providing a good work environment and support system. Employers can compensate for lacking the resources by focusing on making workers feel safe, allowing workers to take part of the decision-making process, and hiring outside consultancy services as needed. Workers can focus on communicating their needs effectively and demonstrating how meeting these needs will benefit the workplace.
It is hard to unplug the demands of work, after you have left the office for the day. Answering work related e-mails at home has become the norm, juggling home and work life is difficult. Signs that you have an unbalanced work-life is if you are growing more depressed about the time you are putting into your job. A balanced work-life is one that includes time for family, friends, work, exercise, leisure activities and sufficient sleep.
Explore the 7 dimensions of wellness shown above and evaluate in which areas are lacking. Ask yourself where you feel more time should be devoted to. Know your values and personal goals for yourself and begin to pursue them. There is a reason why the term, “Do what you love, love what you do” has become so popular. People are catching on that work isn’t everything and life is way too short to not do what makes you happy.
Tension at work can be high. There can be conflict between customers, coworkers, and bosses. Oftentimes work issues can take the form of bullying, harassment and co-workers taking advantage of other co-workers. There can be a lack of communication or recognition for employees that end up finishing another’s work.
utilize your in-home support systems to balance out work related relationship issues. Using partner support has many positive benefits that can counteract the stressors felt from your job. The benefits include higher marital satisfaction, being less critical of others, higher concentration at work, less fatigue, higher job satisfaction, and higher views of your career going in the right direction.
Changes in the workplace due to updates and outdated technology happen daily. Workers are expected to keep up with changes in systems, programs and methods without training or demonstrating how the new technology works. Even if they are given a training, employees can become frustrated for having to take time away from completing important work tasks. Poor planning exacerbates the issue and creates confusion and doubt among workers. Having to keep up with industry standards in a fast-paced tech environment can be nerve wracking.
Are you a person who handles change well? If you are not, what about the idea of change bothers you on a personal level? Are you fearful of the new technology failing? Are you scared this new technology will replace your job? How might you be able to prepare for the technology change on a personal level? Accepting that technology is out there is a part of managing work related stress.
Oftentimes poor administration causes unnecessary red tape. The complexities alone can create frustration due to: delays, waiting for an ok, excessive documentation and policies. Red tape can have a negative impact on workers feelings of burden, innovation, reduces productivity and creates doubts regarding the career choices of their employees.
Companies should focus on analyzing situations strategically and shifting priorities. It is difficult for one employee to single-handedly rid its company of unnecessary administrative bureaucracy. As frustrating as it may be, there are probably valid reasons for your company’s policies. Oftentimes if you are able to gather some more information about the reasons for the rules it may help you accept them more. The extra information may leave you feeling more satisfied with your job. Resisting any processes within the workforce may make the task seem longer and even more tedious. Instead, try to get a head start on projects and reuse any previously submitted work as templates for your new project, this may help you get through the approval process faster.