Stress: Stress at work
Stress at Work:
What is work stress. The effects of stress at work

Workers who are stressed are also more likely to be unhealthy, poorly motivated, less productive and less safe at work. Their organizations are less likely to be successful in a competitive market.

What is the Stress at Work?

Definition of the stress at work: stress and burnout!

Stress can be brought about by pressures at home and at work. Employers cannot usually protect workers from stress arising outside of work, but they can protect them from stress that arises through work. Stress at work can be a real problem to the organization as well as for its workers. Good management and good work organization are the best forms of stress prevention. If employees are already stressed, their managers should be aware of it and know how to help.

What is work stress?

Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.

Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues and where they have little control over work or how they can cope with its demands and pressures.

Consequences of stress

Stress results from a mismatch between the demands and pressures on the person, on the one hand, and their knowledge and abilities, on the other. It challenges their ability to cope with work. This includes not only situations where the pressures of work exceed the worker’s ability to cope but also where the worker’s knowledge and abilities are not sufficiently utilized and that is a problem for them.

Discover the stress test at work: Do you suffer stress at work?

A healthy job with no stress

A healthy job is likely to be one where the pressures on employees are appropriate in relation to their abilities and resources, to the amount of control they have over their work, and to the support they receive from people who matter to them. As health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a positive state of complete physical, mental and social well-being (WHO, 1986), a healthy working environment is one in which there is not only an absence of harmful conditions but an abundance of health promoting ones

What Causes Work Stress?

Poor work organization, that is the way we design jobs and work systems, and the way we manage them, can cause work stress.

Excessive and otherwise unmanageable demands and pressures can be caused by poor work design, poor management and unsatisfactory working conditions. Similarly, these things can result in workers not receiving sufficient support from others or not having enough control over their work and its pressures.

Causes os Stress: Stress-Related Hazards

Work Content for Stress:

Job Content
• Monotonous, under-stimulating, meaningless tasks
• Lack of variety
• Unpleasant tasks
• Aversive tasks

Workload and Work pace
• Having too much or too little to do
• Working under time pressures

Working Hours
• Strict and inflexible working schedules
• Long and unsocial hours
• Unpredictable working hours
• Badly designed shift systems

Participation and Control
• Lack of participation in decision making
• Lack of control (for example, over work methods, work pace, working hours and the work environment)

Work Context for Stress:

Career Development, Status and Pay
• Job insecurity
• Lack of promotion prospects
• Under-promotion or over-promotion
• Work of ‘low social value’
• Piece rate payments schemes
• Unclear or unfair performance evaluation systems
• Being over-skilled or under-skilled for the job

Role in the Organization
• Unclear role
• Conflicting roles within the same job
• Responsibility for people
• Continuously dealing with other people and their problems

Interpersonal Relationships
• Inadequate, inconsiderate or unsupportive supervision
• Poor relationships with co-workers
• Bullying, harassment and violence
• Isolated or solitary work
• No agreed procedures for dealing with problems or complaints

Organizational Culture
• Poor communication
• Poor leadership
• Lack of clarity about organizational objectives and structure

Home-Work Interface
• Conflicting demands of work and home
• Lack of support for domestic problems at work
• Lack of support for work problems at home

The Effects of Stress at Work

The effects of work stress on individuals

Stress affects different people in different ways. The experience of work stress can cause unusual and dysfunctional behaviour at work and contribute to poor physical and mental health. In extreme cases, long-term stress or traumatic events at work may lead to psychological problems and be conductive to psychiatric disorders resulting in absence from work and preventing the worker from being able to work again.

When under stress, people find it difficult to maintain a healthy balance between work and nonwork life. At the same time, they may engage in unhealthy activities, such as smoking drinking and abusing drugs. Stress may also affect the immune system, impairing people’s ability to fight infections.

The effects of work stress on organizations

If key staff or a large number of workers are affected, work stress may challenge the healthiness and performance of their organization.

Unhealthy organizations do not get the best from their workers and this may affect not only their performance in the increasingly competitive market but eventually even their survival.

The Prevention of Work Stress

There are a number of ways by which the risk of work stress can be reduced. These include:

Primary prevention, reducing stress through:
• ergonomics,
• work and environmental design,
• organizational and management development.

Secondary prevention, reducing stress through:
• worker education and training.

Tertiary prevention, reducing the impact of stress by:
• developing more sensitive and responsive management systems and enhanced occupational health provision.

The organization itself is a generator of different types of risk. Tertiary prevention in organizations places an emphasis on the provision of responsive and efficient occupational health services. Contemporary work stress management should, therefore, encompass tertiary prevention.

Concluding Remarks about Stress at Work

Good managements is stress management

Work stress is a real challenge for workers and their employing organizations. As organizations and their working environment transform, so do the kinds of stress problems that employees may face. It is important that your workplace is being continuously monitored for stress problems.

Further, it is not only important to identify stress problems and to deal with them but to promote healthy work and reduce harmful aspects of work. Work in itself can be a self-promoting activity as long as it takes place in a safe, development- and health-promoting environment.

Successful employers and managers provide leadership in dealing with the challenge of work stress

Reduce Stress: Relax Your Body at Work

How to de-stress at work

One of the most common questions asked about stress is, “What can I do to de-stress during a busy day?” Fortunately, there is something you can do for yourself when you need to release tension and stiffness or simply refocus your mind.

The following body-centered exercises work well in an office setting, as all you need to do is sit forward on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. You may increase the number of repetitions, as your body grows stronger and more flexible. Take a few minutes at the end of your exercise to sit comfortably, noticing your breath and releasing tension with each exhalation. You’ll be ready to return to work feeling more comfortable and refreshed.

Exercises to Reduce Stress at Work

Feet and Legs

With legs outstretched:
• Alternate curling and stretching the toes. Repeat three times and relax.
• Alternate flexing (bending) and extending (stretching) the whole foot at the ankle. Repeat three times.
• Rotate the ankles to the right as if drawing circles with your toes. Repeat three times.
• Rotate the ankles to the left. Repeat three times.

Arms and Hands

• With arms extended out in front of you:
• Move your hands up and down, bending from the wrist. Repeat three times.
• Alternate stretching your fingers, then making a fist. Repeat three times.
• Rotate your wrists three times, first to the right, then to the left. Relax. Repeat three times.

Head and Neck

Hold each of these positions, taking three easy breaths and relaxing tension with each exhalation, then return your head to upright centre before doing the next movement.
• Drop your chin to your chest. Feel the weight of your head stretch out the back of your neck. Hold.
• Look as far as you can over your right shoulder. Hold.
• Look as far as you can over your left shoulder. Hold.
• Drop your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold.
• Drop your left ear to your left shoulder. Hold.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is another effective and widely used strategy for stress relief. It is a great technique for reducing overall body tension. It involves a two-step process in which you tense and relax different muscles in the body. With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation helps you recognize what tension as well as complete relaxation feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. As your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of relief from stress.

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