Causes of Stress at Work

A variety of different surveys conducted by different organisations find that 30% to 40% of people report that their jobs are;

-Quite a bit
-Extremely stressful

Reported sources of stress are, when people feel like;

-They always have to be on and working hard
-They don’t get time away from work
-They don’t feel like they have autonomy at work
-They are paid unfairly
-They are not rewarded
-They don’t have the resources to get the work done that’s required of them

Very obviously, people will feel stressed.

We can also be thinking about the contents of mind, mental habits that may lead to stress.
– You might be a worrier
– You catastrophize
– You ruminate and that could be a source of stress
– You may be overly perfectionistic.
– Your mind may wander and get off task

We live in a very perfectionist time where we are very critical of our ourselves and condemning of our work that can lead to stress. You may compare yourself inappropriately to others. All of those are sources of stress. We can look at the nature of communication within an organization.

Are there not healthy channels of communication?
Are there barriers to sharing information and
Are there barriers to develop the social ties that make for rewarding work and countervail stress?

We can think about the cultural features of your work. Is there a lack of diversity and inclusiveness that produce stress? Is there kind of a deficit of trust? Is there trauma, or is there sort of an atmosphere of adversity or adversarialism that produce stress?

We can think about the nature of policies at work.
– If you are doing work that is physically dangerous or threatening
– it has a lot of emotional labour
– it feels insecure

We can think about policies that are really important that can allow people to have family leaves or healthy form of childcare and healthcare. Are there easily accessible and robust channels whereby people can report on their grievances at work?

Very importantly organizations should be transparent about their decision-making and people feel alienated when they don’t’ know the processes or criteria by which important decisions are made. Importantly leaders really matter in terms of creating a culture of stress or a culture of challenge and enthusiasm. 

There is a lot of evidence that when leaders manage in a coercive, domineering, or top-down styles, their work and people they are managing feel stressed out. If leaders don’t recognize or appreciate the good work people are doing around them, those people will feel stressed out. If they cultivate an atmosphere of you have always got to work and overworking is a badge of honour, there is stress.

There needs to be a structure within the workplace where people feel like they can grow and have ways to not only improve what they are working on but also handle the conflicts of work.