Have you ever waited desperately for the weekend so you can unwind without work on your shoulders?
If you are employed, chances are workplace stress is something you’ve encountered undoubtedly.
A silent killer, as many describe it, workplace stress is the most prevalent cause of stress amongst individuals.
Of course, it can often be motivating and encourage you to conquer that deadline, but what happens when there’s too much of it?
Workplace stress, though common, can result in harmful outcomes. This article highlights several causes of such stress and powerful coping techniques.
Let’s look at some common elements of stress at the workplace.
- Inadequate Stipend: When employees do not feel that their efforts are being met with an appropriate stipend, they may feel undervalued and unmotivated, leading to stress at the workplace.
- Excessive Work Burden: With responsibilities and tasks that seem never-ending, workers may disrupt their work-life balance and give themselves and their families very limited time.
- Limited Opportunities For Growth: Work-load and limited growth career development opportunities can result in less employee engagement, motivation, and productivity. Inadequate training and workshops for workers can also hinder personal and professional growth, leading to added stress.
- Low Job-security: The business economy is highly uncertain, and competition is at its all-time high. During such times, organizations may adopt cost-cutting strategies and layoffs. Job insecurity at the workplace can cause undue stress to employees. Not to mention, they may feel more pressured to prove themselves and perform better.
- Tasks Are Not Engaging or Challenging: Finding the balance to provide challenging work to your employees but not overworking or underworking them is tricky. No challenges in your worker’s tasks can bore them and make things very monotonous. New hurdles are known to motivate employees and help them master different skills.
- Lack Of Support: Whether it is providing the right resources to your employees or unending emotional support, both are essential. A lack of managers’ support can compromise outcomes and induce employee stress.
- Limited Responsibilities and Decision-making: Authority and responsibility go hand-in-hand. When an employee is given responsibility with no authority and decision-making power, it will likely make them feel unappreciated or incapable, leading to workplace stress.
- Unclear Communication: This includes irregular feedback, weak communication channels, unclear expectations regarding tasks, etc. When communication is not exercised adequately in the organization, employees will often feel stressed about how well they perform and whether they meet the expected benchmark or not. Not just that, clear communication can help normalize an employee addressing their needs and concerns in the workplace.
Effects of Stress
It may be easier to detect the causes of stress, but narrowing down the effects is not so straightforward. Stress can negatively influence your mental and physical health, whether stemming from your workplace or not.
Your nervous system triggers a ‘fight or flight’ response to cope with stressful situations.
This constant wear and tear on various biological systems can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to disease or injury.
Several researchers have extensively studied the effects of workplace stress and physical illnesses. Common effects of stress include disturbed sleeping patterns, regular headaches, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, and even indigestion. Depression, anxiety, irritability, and procrastination are other common effects of workplace stress.
Such outcomes will limit job productivity, increase absenteeism and job turnover, and even can incite conflict between coworkers if not addressed and managed properly.
Steps To Manage Stress
Managers at organizations must prioritize employee health, both mental and physical. Though a challenging balance, managers must build an environment that doesn’t result in undue stress to employees but still motivates them to work efficiently.
1 – Recognize The Source of Stress
The first step towards managing stress at the workplace begins with understanding the source from which it originates.
Start with writing the sources of stress one by one; even if it stems from your thoughts, note it down. Tracing the reasons that stress you out will give you a clearer picture of the situation.
Managers can encourage employees to answer the following questions to understand the problem at first hand effectively;
- What specific reason is making you feel anxious or stressed?
- Why is it prompting you to feel like this?
- Do you take responsibility for your stress or blame it on others?
- Are you generally an anxious or stressed individual?
- What are your current coping methods to deal with stress? Are they helpful?
2 – Develop Healthy Responses
After recognizing the root cause, developing a healthy approach to cope with stress is fundamental. Though there are uncountable ways people can deal with such situations, many choose unhealthy and harmful solutions.
Turning to things like sleeping too much or too little, overeating or undereating, and tobacco or alcohol can be detrimental and make things worse.
Instead, look after your body and mind to fight stress and emotional overload by;
- Regularly Exercising: A quick jog in the park or visit to the gym can encourage you to vent your frustration or stress by breaking a sweat. Something as simple as a 30-minute workout can raise your endorphin levels and leave you feeling more relaxed.
Whether it is yoga, lifting weights, or even running, exercising regularly is a healthy approach to manage your stress.
- Eating Healthy and Staying Hydrated: It’s not just important to eat healthy, but also to eat enough. Not eating enough will leave you feeling tired and weak, discouraging you from being productive, not just in your workplace but also otherwise.
Whereas eating unhealthy snacks and stress eating can become a habit and result in unhealthy weight gain and medical problems.
Regardless of your stress, ensure you eat well-balanced meals, including green vegetables and fruits, to feel more energized. With healthy meals, drink enough water to remain hydrated and focused.
3 – Establish Specific Boundaries:
Many employees often feel pressured to be available throughout the day for work-related updates and tasks. They sense the need to check their phones every second to ensure they don’t miss out on anything.
Of course, it is crucial to complete tasks efficiently and within deadlines. However, hustling nonstop to meet commitments will only lead to unnecessary pressure and burnout.
If you’re an employee trying to cope with stress, establish boundaries like having a designated working space, not focusing too much on work during the weekends or holidays, and taking enough breaks throughout the day at the office.
Something as simple as a walk or a chat with a fellow employee at the workplace can help you recharge and relax.
4 – Prioritize & Organize
“All work and no play is a recipe for burnout.”
As an employee, you must ensure you try to find your work-life balance. Prioritize your significant tasks of the day and aim to complete them before you take on other jobs.
Diminish your workplace stress by breaking goals into smaller ones, delegate tasks when needed, and make sure you don’t try to fit in ‘too much’ during your day. A schedule can help you plan your day out and stay organized with your responsibilities; as an employee, family member, and friend.
5 – Change Your Mindset
Often, we stress ourselves out merely due to our thoughts and nothing else. If you think that your mind is a significant contributor to your anxiety, a shift in your mindset is imperative.
Whether it means accepting uncontrollable situations or not being pessimistic about circumstances, changes like these can only come from within you. Don’t focus on being a perfectionist; such thoughts will make the easiest of tasks harder.
6 – Encourage a Supportive Environment
If you’re a manager, fashioning an open culture wherein your employees can voice their struggles and perspectives can be a significant game-changer and reduce workplace tension.
Providing a set budget or opportunities for your employees to spend time together outside the work environment can also strengthen their relationships. These informal meetings can make them feel more comfortable voicing their feelings.
Not just that, a supportive environment also suggests having empathy for your employees and giving them time off or the additional support they require.
If you’re an employee, manage your stress by talking about it and asking for support when needed. Discussing difficulties resulting in workplace stress with your manager can help you get the burden off your shoulder and improve accordingly.
You can even connect with other colleagues to help you unwind.
7 – Effectively Communicate
One-on-one communication between managers and employees is essential for a stress-free work environment. To effectively recognize challenges means to communicate freely.
Even if, as a manager, there are certain situations you cannot change, sharing such thoughts can help both you and your employee.
Effective communication isn’t just about setting clear expectations and responsibilities for your employees. You must also recognize and value workers for their hard work and applaudable performances.
Such actions will make them feel appreciated and motivate them along with their colleagues to give better outcomes. Managers must understand that ineffective communication of goals, expectations, and performance can be the reason for your employee’s stress.
Workplace stress is a common phenomenon due to the ever-changing and ever-demanding business world. However, if situations causing undue stress are not addressed sooner or later, can lead to unfavorable outcomes.
Stress affects not only you but also your organization, your manager or supervisors, and your relationship with family and friends. Though there are several techniques to deal with workplace stress, choose what works best for you and stand by them. These strategies can help to guide you past this phase.
Please don’t be shy to put your thoughts on “Workplace Stress” in the comments below and subscribe our newsletter to be updated with the latest MSME buzz and business and employee management ideas.
Still Not Using ‘PagarBook’ for Employee Management?
Associate Growth Manager
Prashant is Associate Growth Manager in PagarBook and manages all the organic web presence for brand.