“Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea.” ~ Frederick Saunders
What is Workplace Stress?
Workplace stress refers to the harmful responses that occur when an employee’s capabilities do not meet the job demands and requirements.
Stress is one of the most significant psychological hazards in the workplace. It results from economic, social, physical, and emotional factors that need a response to change. It can pose a risk to your employees’ physical health and mental health. It can also cause injury.
In recent times, stress in the workplace has increased throughout the world. In fact, according to the American Institute of Stress 83% of workers in the US suffer from work-related stress.
Moreover, due to increasing job stress, high demands, and crunching deadlines, employees are also becoming prone to workplace depression and anxiety.
Related blog: How Can Managers Support Mental Health in the Workplace
Notable Stats About Workplace Stress
Workplace Stress is fast becoming a matter of grave concern among employers and professionals. Here are some worrying statistics from the American Institute of Stress that point to the same fact:
- Businesses in the US lose upto $300 billion dollars in a year due to loss in productvity caused by stress in the workplace.
- Health complications because of work stress leads to a staggering spending of $190 billions in healthcare in a year in the US.
- One million workers remain absent from work every day because of work stress.
- 63% of US Workers are ready to quit their job because of the stress the suffer at work.
- 54% of respondents in a study said that workplace stress hampers their life at home as well.
- For Americans, work-related pressures remain among the top-three sources of stress.
- 66% of workers in America suffered from sleep deprivation because of work stress.
- 75% of a worker's annual salary is spent on covering up for lost productivity caused by stress.
Signs and Symptoms of Workplace Stress
Workplace stress manifests itself in various ways. While some of these signs and symptoms are quite evident and visible on the surface, others are not.
However, it is important to be aware of these symptoms, so that you can take necessary steps to fight them.
Some signs and symptoms of stress are:
- Paranoia or overthinking
- Being irritable
- Lack of confidence and enthusiasm
- Inability to take actions
- Loss of memory
- Feeling of guilt
- Loss of appetite
- Sweating a lot
- Low libido
- Weak immune system
- Falling sick often
- Headaches and body pains
- Constipation or Diarrhea
- An excessive beating of the heart
- Difficulty breathing
- High Blood pressure
- Dependence and overuse of alcohol and drugs
- Low productivity and poor work performance
Factors Causing Workplace Stress
Both physical and emotional problems can cause high stress in the workplace.
The source of stress may be a problem in the workplace or a personal event or problem.
Here are some factors which cause workplace stress-
- Job insecurity
- Low salary
- Lack of communication
- Conflict among members of the staff or management
- Workplace bullying
- Working overtime
- Lack of employee recognition and rewards
- No breaks during work
- Lack of employee engagement
- Working shifts
- High demands
- Lack of control over the work at hand
- Discrimination in the workplace
- Lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace
- No work-life balance
- Low employee morale
- Traumatic life events
- Lackluster work conditions and work environment
The Effects of Workplace Stress
Undergoing some stress in our day-to-day lives is normal. However, prolonged stress poses a threat to our health and well-being.
Stress in the workplace affects both employees and employers.
It impacts one’s ability to cope with situations and tasks and feel good. Besides, it negatively impacts the employee health and wellbeing, causing loss of output and productivity.
Related Article: 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover
Ways to Combat Workplace Stress
Reduced stress levels in the workplace equal to increased productivity. It increases job satisfaction and also decreases employee turnover.
There are many steps that an employer can take to combat workplace stress.
To combat stress, an employer must first understand workplace stressors.
Here are some steps one can take to combat extremely stressful workplace situations-
Promote Physical Exercise among Employees
Being fit and healthy equates to lower levels of stress and a better quality of life.
Regular exercise increases your employees’ ability to cope with stress as well.
Cardio exercises like walking, running, or cycling increase energy levels and strengthen the body and also the mind. Moreover, they lift one’s moods and increase concentration and focus.
Resistance training also has a similar impact on one’s mood levels. For instance, a study found that resistance training improves the moods of people with depression.
Promote Good Nutritional Habits
Good nutrition also plays an important role in maintaining good health.
One must adopt healthy food habits to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Good nourishment replenishes the energy levels of the body. It also helps maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
These are some tips to make the most of your food choices:
Reduce the Consumption of Stimulants such as Alcohol and Caffeine.
Stimulants affect the central nervous system by causing one to be more alert and energetic. They may also make one feel more pleasured and invigorated. Moreover, they affect the body’s ability to sleep and recuperate, causing stress.
Reduce the consumption of simple sugars like refined flour and candies.
Simple sugars with high GI cause a rapid spike and a consequent drop in the insulin and blood sugar levels. This is called a sugar crash which can have negative health effects.
The nicotine in cigarettes has a stimulating effect on the body. It also causes anxiety and stress.
Drink More Water.
Water is a substance that is essential for sustaining life. Sufficient Water intake removes stress-causing toxins from the body through urine.
Increase the Consumption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids such as Fatty Fish and Walnuts.
Omega-3 fatty acids have an astounding amount of health benefits including anti-inflammatory effects. Cellular inflammation in the brain is one of the main causes of anxiety among people. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, uplifting mood.
Get Enough Sleep
A good night’s sleep helps to rejuvenate the body and mind and also replenishes energy levels. Missing out on quality sleep disrupts concentration and focus. Moreover, it makes us irritable and stressed.
Getting enough sleep is very important. One should aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
Also, avoid exposure to electronic devices at night. They emit blue light which suppresses the melatonin production of the body, disrupting sleep.
Avoid stimulating activities and foods before going to sleep. Furthermore, reading books in a dimly lighted room or listening to relaxing music can also help you fall asleep quicker.
More things you can do as an employer to combat stress in the workplace are-
- Promote time management among employees.
- Promote employee engagement in the workplace.
- Increase time limits for completing tasks.
- Clarify goals and responsibilities.
- Ensure the work matches the employee’s qualifications and skills.
- Provide regular breaks at work.
- Promote employee participation in decision making.
- Give out rewards for completing tasks.
- Create opportunities for career development.
- Train employees with stress management skills.
- Promote social interaction among employees.
- Conduct health screening tests to track symptoms of stress.
- Provide health services to employees affected by stress.
- End bullying and discrimination in the workplace.
- Eliminate physical and occupational hazards.
- Promote the use of safety equipment for occupation safety and health.
- Learning and utilizing ways to measure levels of stress in your employees-
By monitoring how people use their phones, a healthcare company called Mindstrong Health is using a smartphone app to measure the cognition and emotional health of people. This is done by measuring the way a person types, scrolls or taps while using other applications.
The data is analyzed and encrypted through machine learning. Furthermore, the results are sent to the patients and their medical providers. Also, by monitoring the details from the app, medical providers get to know if there is something wrong with their patients.
According to Mindstrong Health, the way one interacts with their phones offers interesting clues to their mental health.
Stress in the workplace is common throughout the world. The ever-increasing demands at work combined with a lack of good health cause stress among employees.
Workplace stress is harmful to employers and employees alike. It is important for employers to take steps to combat stress.
Furthermore, stress-free workplaces are more productive and happy in general. Without stress, the quality of life also improves. Lastly, a stress-free work environment creates a balance between work and life.