For workers everywhere in both the private and public sector, factors such as the economy, job layoffs, mergers, and acquisistions, as well as constant change within the office has turned work into an unwanted emotional roller coaster. "Layoffs" and "budget cuts" have become bywords in the workplace, and the result is increased fear, uncertainty, and higher levels of stress.
What is Stress?
The HSE defines stress as "the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them".
Work-related stress is the result of a conflict between the role and needs of an individual employee and the demands of the workplace resulting in pressure on an individual/team/group/dept/etc. Physiologically, we are programmed to deal with pressure or threatening situations by producing more adrenaline. This response is only intended to be short-term.
The effect of excessive pressure is to keep the body constantly in such a state, and can lead to physical symptoms of ill health, such as heart disease, as well as longer term psychological damage.
Many of the early outward signs will be noticeable to managers and work colleagues and they include:
ü Changes in behaviour
ü Unusual tearfulness, irritability or aggression
ü Increased sickness absence
ü Poor timekeeping
ü Reduced performance, e.g. inability to concentrate
ü Overworking or failure to delegate
ü Erosion of self-confidence
ü Relationship problems, e.g. becoming withdrawn or argumentative
ü Increased unwillingness to co-operate or accept advice
Common triggers of workplace stress
- Pressure to perform to meet rising expectations but with no increase in job satisfaction
- Pressure to work at optimum levels – all the time
- Long working hours
- Breakdown in relationships with colleagues or managers
- difficult journeys to and from work
- mismatch between the requirements of the job and your own capabilities and needs
- too much or too little responsibility
How do you know if you have work-related stress?If you ever
Now take a deep breath, count slowly to ten, exhale, and read on!