2/18/2018

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Workplace stress

What is Workplace Stress?

Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Workplace stress can lead to poor health and even injury.

The concept of workplace stress is often confused with challenge, but these concepts are not the same. Challenge energizes us psychologically and physically, and it motivates us to learn new skills and master our jobs. When a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied. Thus, challenge is an important ingredient for healthy and productive work. The importance of challenge in our work lives is probably what people are referring to when they say "a little bit of stress is good for you.

Workplace stress is also referred to as job stress.

What Causes Workplace Stress?

Most people agree that workplace stress results from the interaction of the worker and the conditions of work. Views differ, however, on the importance of worker characteristics versus working conditions as the primary cause of workplace stress. These differing viewpoints are important because they suggest different ways to prevent stress at work.

According to one school of thought, differences in individual characteristics such as personality and coping style are most important in predicting whether certain job conditions will result in stress. In other words, what is stressful for one person may not be a problem for someone else. This viewpoint leads to prevention strategies that focus on workers and ways to help them cope with demanding job conditions.

Although the importance of individual differences cannot be ignored, scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions are stressful to most people.

Job Conditions That May Lead to Stress

  • The Design of Tasks. Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers' skills, and provide little sense of control.
  • Management Style. Lack of participation by co-workers in decision- making, poor communication in the organization, lack of family-friendly policies.
  • Interpersonal Relationships. Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors.
  • Work Roles. Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility, too many "hats to wear."
  • Career Concerns. Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; rapid changes for which workers are unprepared.
  • Environmental Conditions. Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.

Workplace Stress Statistics (American Institute of Stress)

  • "(Job stress is "the 20th Century Disease")" United Nations National Report
  • 75-90% of visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems
  • 1 million employees are absent on an average workday due to stress related problems
  • Less than 25% of Americans find their jobs extremely satisfying today.
  • 78% describe their jobs as being stressful.
  • Stress costs $200 - $300 billion annually, as assessed by absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, accidents, direct medical, legal, and insurance fees, Worker's Compensation etc. That is equal to the total net profit of the fortune 500 companies.
  • 60-80% of accidents on the job are stress related.

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