In today’s fast-paced and high-pressure world, workplace stress has become an increasingly common and pervasive issue. The demands of modern work environments can be overwhelming, leaving many employees feeling burnt out, exhausted, and disengaged. At the same time, stress in the workplace can have serious negative effects on both individuals and organizations, including decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher rates of turnover.
To understand the root causes of workplace stress, it is important to recognize the systemic and cultural factors that contribute to this issue. Many workplaces prioritize productivity and efficiency above all else, often at the expense of employee well-being. Employees could feel pressure to work long hours, take on excessive workloads, and sacrifice their personal time and energy to meet organizational goals. In addition, workplace cultures that value competition, individual achievement, and hierarchy can exacerbate stress by creating a sense of isolation and disconnection among employees.
At the same time, workplace stress is not solely a product of individual or organizational factors. It is also shaped by broader social and economic systems, such as the increasing precarity of work, the rise of the gig economy, and the erosion of social safety nets. These systemic factors can create a sense of insecurity and anxiety among workers, contributing to feelings of stress and overwhelm.
To address workplace stress, it is important to take a systemic and holistic approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of individuals, organisations, and broader social systems. This may involve creating workplace cultures prioritising employee well-being, implementing policies and practices that support work-life balance and flexible schedules, and advocating for broader social and economic policies that promote job security, financial stability, and social safety nets. By taking a soulful systemic approach to workplace stress, we can create more sustainable and fulfilling work environments that support the well-being and flourishing of all employees.
Workplace Stress – Internal and External Factors
Workplace stress is a common and complex issue that can have serious negative effects on both individuals and organisations. The causes of workplace stress can be categorized into two broad perspectives: internal and external factors.
Internal factors are factors that originate from within the individual employee. These may include personal factors such as perfectionism, difficulty with time management, or a lack of coping skills to manage stress. Employees with these traits may be more prone to experiencing workplace stress due to their internal tendencies.
External factors are those that originate from the external work environment. These may include factors such as job insecurity, high workloads, and a lack of control over work processes. Employees may also experience stress due to interpersonal issues such as poor communication, conflict with colleagues, or an unsupportive work culture.
Both internal and external factors can contribute to workplace stress, and it is often a combination of these factors that leads to stress in the workplace. For example, an employee with a tendency towards perfectionism may experience stress when faced with a high-pressure workload and a lack of control over their work processes.
In order to address workplace stress, it is important to identify and address both internal and external factors. This may involve providing employees with training and resources to develop coping skills and manage stress, as well as implementing organisational policies and practices that support employee well-being and reduce sources of external stress. By taking a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to workplace stress, organisations can create a more supportive and sustainable work environment for all employees.
Examples of Work Stress Triggers
- Workload: One of the most common causes of workplace stress is overwhelming. Giving an employee more work than they are able to handle can lead to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. This can be particularly true if the employee doesn’t have the necessary skills or resources to complete the work.
- Job Insecurity: Job insecurity can also significantly cause workplace stress. Employees uncertain about their job security may feel stressed about their ability to provide for themselves and their families. This can be especially true during economic uncertainty or when the organisation is going through a period of change.
- Lack of Control: Feeling like you have no control over your work can also be a source of workplace stress. Employees who feel like they do not have a say in their work or who are micromanaged may feel stressed and disengaged.
- Poor Relationships with Coworkers: Having poor relationships with coworkers can also be a source of workplace stress. When there is tension or conflict between employees, it can lead to a stressful work environment. This can be particularly true if the employee must work closely with the coworker.
- Organisational Change: Organisational change can also be a source of workplace stress. A significant organisational change, such as a merger or restructuring, can create uncertainty and stress among employees.
How Can Workplace Stress Affect Me?
Workplace stress is a common issue that can significantly impact an individual’s mental health, relationships, home life, and workload. When stress is left unaddressed, it can lead to a range of negative consequences that affects all aspects of a person’s life.
Firstly, stress at work can have a severe impact on mental health. When a person is under constant pressure at work, they may experience anxiety, depression, and burnout. These conditions can be debilitating and affect a person’s ability to function at work and in their personal life. In addition, stress can also lead to physical health problems, including headaches, stomach issues, and sleep disturbances, which can further exacerbate mental health issues.
Stress at work can also affect an individual’s relationships. When people feel stressed at work, they may be more irritable, less patient, and less present in their relationships. This can result in conflicts with loved ones, strained relationships, and feelings of isolation. It can be challenging to separate work stress from personal life, and when one is affected, it can spill over into the other.
Furthermore, stress at work can also impact an individual’s home life. When people feel overwhelmed and stressed at work, they may find it challenging to focus on their responsibilities, such as caring for children or maintaining a household. This can lead to guilt and feeling overwhelmed, further exacerbating stress levels.
Workplace stress can have a significant effect on an individual’s workload. When someone is stressed, it can be challenging to focus on their work, leading to mistakes, missed deadlines, and decreased productivity. This potentially creates a vicious cycle, as the added pressure of a decreased workload can lead to increased stress levels.
How Therapy Helps Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress can significantly impact an individual’s mental health and well-being, and therapy can successfully manage and reduce this stress. Counselling allows individuals to explore their thoughts and feelings, identify adaptive processes, and develop skills to manage workplace stress.
Here are some other ways therapy can help with workplace stress:
- Discussing work-related concerns and identifying the root causes of stress
- Develop ways to manage workloads,
- Improve communication with coworkers or superiors
- Create a healthy work-life balance.
- Build resilience and develop adaptive processes to manage stress better
- Develop methods such as mindfulness, relaxation, and other stress-reducing activities
- Improve communication and relationships with coworkers and superiors
- Set boundaries and prioritising mental health and well-being
- Set realistic goals and prioritising self-care