5 Causes & Cures of Workplace Stress
Do your employees seem stressed in the workplace? Are you challenged in understanding what is causing them stress and how to "cure" the situation? Here are five (5) leading causes and cures of stress in the workplace.
The cause: The job itself is a leading source of stress for employees. While workload and overwork is a major cause, other sources of job related stress are working on unfulfilling and unchallenging work, lack of future career or advancement opportunities within the organization, low pay for the work they perform, unrealistic or unmanageable job expectations or goals, being unable to cope with the demands of their job, and having little control or autonomy over how they work.
The cure: Constantly assess workload and overwork as employees should not feel overwhelmed all of the time. If they do, there is likely a problem with expectations, staffing, or the individual's personal work style. In addition, keep jobs engaging and challenging. Make sure employees are growing and learning, have reasonable job expectations and goals, and have some semblance of autonomy and control over how they perform their work.
The cause: An employee's boss is another leading source of stress, particularly if they have a poor relationship or too much conflict with their boss. In fact, according to USA Today, among working adults, the most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss.
Similarly if their boss is intimidating, has an incompatible management style, has weak interpersonal skills, shifts moods frequently, is unsupportive to employee needs, or treats them disrespectfully and unfairly, employees may experience more stress. When bosses act inconsistently (treating employees inconsistently throughout the organization, having inconsistent expectations of staff members, etc.), this can also lead to stressful work situations.
The cure: Keep tabs on how managers are interacting with and treating their employees, observe employees' behavior around their managers, and resolve issues before they escalate. Make sure that all employees have comfortable working relationships with their bosses. It's also important to make sure managers have the right soft skills to perform their job well, and to make sure that they are held accountable for attracting, retaining, and motivating employees.
The cause: Having conflict or difficulties getting along with coworkers or others at work, such as one's boss, can be a common source of stress in the workplace. Poor quality interactions and lack of collaboration with fellow coworkers can also cause stress.
The cure: Manage, mediate, and resolve coworker conflicts before they escalate - nip them in the bud quickly. Train employees on communication and conflict management/resolution skills. Minimize competition in the workplace. Provide opportunities for informal social interaction (e.g. low-stress "face time") so employees to get to know one another and build trust. Additionally, provide opportunities for positive collaboration on work projects among employees.
The cause: Organizational change affects employees differently, with some employees relishing and welcoming it, and others fearing it or finding it stressful. Change in one's job, team, the organizational structure, new processes and procedures, as well as cultural or work environment changes - especially changes that they can't control - can all create fear and stress for employees, especially if they are not managed or communicated well. Employees often wonder how organizational changes will affect them and their situation, and that sometimes causes stress.
The cure: Involve employees in change if it affects them. Solicit their feedback and input. Inform them about change well ahead of time, explain why the change it occurring, and encourage them to ask questions about the changes. Foster open dialogue about changes to reduce suspicion. Allow employees to talk through changes with one another or with trusted superiors in productive ways.
5. Personal factors
The cause: Finally, a broad range of personal factors can create stress - commute, lack of work/life balance, childcare responsibilities, financial issues, personal relationships, among others. While these factors are not directly under an employer's control, they cause stress in the workplace and employers need to be mindful of this.
The cure: Employers can provide support to employees by offering work/life balance, flexible work schedules, employee assistance programs, financial planning help, stress management training, and other support benefits and services to help employees resolve any personal issues they may be experiencing and decrease their stress. Support benefits, such as these, are extremely useful in helping employees solve stressful personal problems.
Workplace stress can emerge from so many different factors, but these tend to be some of the most common, and the ones that can best be managed and "cured."
ERC's Preferred Partner, University Hospitals Employer Solutions understands the health care challenges facing Northeast Ohio employers and provides a comprehensive set of services that can be customized to meet their needs.
Employee Assistance Programs
ERC's Preferred Partner, ease@Work , a division of the Center for Families and Children, provides employee assistance, work/life and wellness services to companies throughout Ohio with employees throughout the United States - including a new employee assistance program option for small employers.