Healthworks: Workplace Stress and Tips to Avoid It

Employer Solutions | 4 months ago

Workplace Stress and Tips to Avoid It

Stress: It’s been linked to higher rates of high blood pressure, heart attack and more. As an employer, learn how you can reduce stress in the workplace.
The modern-day workplace hustle has many people, in the words of the 1981 hit song, working for the weekend. But what makes us so eager to leave our jobs for a couple of days of rest and relaxation at the end of the week? According to the American Institute of Stress, workplace stress may play a contributing factor. 

Several studies have shown the workplace as one of the largest sources of stress for American adults, and it’s only escalated in recent decades. An increase in workplace stress — as measured by a perception of having a lot of demands but little control — has a demonstrated association with an increased rate of high blood pressure, heart attack and other disorders. 

While certain jobs are often seen as high stress and others low stress, the truth is such rankings matter little. It’s not about the specific position, but the person/environment fit that matters most. Some people thrive in fast-paced positions with to-do lists a mile long, while others do well in assembly line positions. 

Stress is a highly personalized experience that’s widely variable across identical situations for different reasons. One study showed that completing paperwork is more stressful for police officers than the danger associated with pursuing violent criminals. The degree to which people experience job stress depends on the level of on-the-job demands and an individual sense of decision-making power or control.

Stress management techniques have a limited effect on reducing workplace stress if no effort is made to reduce or remove its sources. This means that identifying and addressing the sources of stress is the first step of a good stress management plan. Employee and management surveys are excellent ways to do this. 

Some common factors that contribute to job stress are:

Inadequate time to satisfactorily complete a job
Lack of opportunity or ability to express complaints
Missing chain of command or clear job description
Job insecurity due to internal pressures or possibility of merger or acquisition
Absence of reward or recognition for good job performance

This list goes on, but every organization has its fair share of stressors. Once identified, each source can be addressed individually to find the root cause of stress. 

From here, it’s time to begin exploring stress management and reduction training programs. These programs usually consist of three components: 

Cognitive training is a behavioral modification method that teaches employees how to reduce inappropriate or exaggerated responses to stress. One example is assertiveness training, which helps them develop the assertiveness necessary to communicate their needs. 
Physiological techniques can help individuals cope with environmental factors or demands that can’t be avoided. Examples include progressive muscular relaxation, achieved by contracting and then relaxing various muscle groups in a systematic fashion, and meditative measures ranging from deep breathing exercises to specific Eastern techniques. 
Physical fitness is one of the most popular and effective ways to combat stress in the workplace. Not only does exercise fight disease, it’s also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness. Regular aerobic exercise can improve sleep, decrease tension, elevate and stabilize mood and improve self-esteem. Even as little as five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. 

Have you begun to identify sources of stress in your workplace? What methods have been effective in reducing stress for you?