According to research up to94% of Americans experience work-related stress, with 6% reporting a severe form. These alarming statistics indicate that you’re likely to undergo stress even if you enjoy doing your job. The condition might manifest itself as short-term pressures to meet deadlines. If it turns into chronic stress, it adversely affects both your physical and mental health. The solution is to create practical strategies for managing stress in the workplace.
What Are The Causes And Effects Of Workplace Stress?
If employee performance dips due to work-related stress, the entire organization’s productivity will also suffer. It’s advisable to identify and deal with the symptoms before they snowball into costlier issues. Common causes of workplace stress include boredom, working long hours, tight deadlines, heavy workloads, unsafe environments, harassment, and discrimination.
Your employees are also likely to be frustrated by a lack of skills, equipment, and other relevant resources. One of the strategies for managing stress in the workplace involves identifying prevalent stressors. You can start by surveying and observing relationships at the workplace. Contributing factors include a poor organizational culture, unsatisfactory management, unreasonable demands, and failure to act promptly on feedback. We can broadly categorize the symptoms associated with this type of stress in three ways:
- Physical symptoms: These manifestations include fatigue, high blood pressure, headache, chest pain, insomnia, muscle tension, gastrointestinal issues, and heart disease.
- Behavioral symptoms: Examples are mood swings, irritability, increased absenteeism, aggression, reduced output, impatience, isolation, and problems with personal relationships.
- Psychological symptoms: Workplace stress can result in mental health problems. The symptoms include anxiety, pessimism, depression, cognitive difficulties, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed.
Although these symptoms affect individual employees, they also have adverse effects on the organization. Consequently, high absenteeism and low productivity lead to a higher turnover rate, which increases administrative costs. Additionally, you might have to pay high insurance premiums due to ill-health.
How to Deal With Workplace Stress
The following strategies for managing stress in the workplace will help you achieve a more fulfilling career:
1. Identify and Understand Your Stressors
It’s advisable to pinpoint the root cause of a problem to solve it. Start by taking a keen interest in your day-to-day schedule at home and the workplace. Keep a record of your feelings, thoughts, interactions, and overall environment. Do you get agitated around certain people? Do you experience anxiety attacks whenever you think of going to work? How many times have you raised your voice? By noting these instances, you’ll soon establish a pattern that will help you find a solution.
Analyze your work-life balance to determine the effect of one on the other. If you have so much work that you regularly take some of it home, it’s more likely to affect your family life and reduce your rest time. This continuous cycle ultimately contributes to fatigue. Even the best jobs can be stressful, but you’re less likely to experience it if you’re efficient.
2. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Most people deal ineffectively with workplace stress by drinking alcohol, bingeing on fast food, and adopting other unhealthy habits. However, these traits only have a numbing effect while worsening the situation. Indeed, healthy strategies for managing stress in the workplace range from simple tweaks to comprehensive solutions.
For instance, start your day in an orderly manner to prevent last-minute rushes that might complicate your entire day. Avoid conflict with co-workers and have a clear understanding of what your job entails. Remove clutter and create a to-do list to ensure you perform all tasks on schedule. Moreover, try to make your work environment as comfortable as possible. Avoid multitasking because it only reduces your output quality.
Similarly, perfectionism tends to waste time and create more problems. Take regular short breaks during the day to recharge. According to the American Psychological Association, workouts such as yoga and aerobic exercise significantly improve physical and mental health. Additionally, they help you get enough sleep, boost your immune system, and improve your overall life and career outlook.
Finally, adopt a healthy diet to complement all these positive steps. That means cutting down on or eliminating heavily processed food, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine intake. If symptoms persist, see a specialist for medication and other types of therapy.
3. Involve Your Organization
Management has a crucial role in preventing work-related stress because it’s a safety and health issue. It’s advisable to approach your supervisor or higher-ups if you want additional measures taken. If you’re a decision-maker, consider improving your workplace communication or by implementing the following strategies for managing stress in the workplace:
- Ensure every employee receives proper training for their job.
- Recognize workplace stress as a genuine issue and work to destigmatize it.
- Listen to employee grievances, encourage feedback, and act on their suggestions.
- Formulate stress management guidelines through consultation with workers, HR, and other relevant departments.
- Incorporate flexibility into the work environment. For example, allow work shifts, review stringent approval processes, and allow workers enough time to attend to personal issues.
Some organizations go a step further by having an in-house counselor that all employees can access whenever they feel stressed. Furthermore, make it easy for all team members to access helpful resources both physically and online.