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7 Common Causes of Stress in the Workplace

7 Common Causes of Stress in the Workplace

It’s a sad fact of the modern world that few people actually enjoy coming into work. Office life can be soulless at times (though a good employer/company will seek to make the work environment as pleasant as possible). Your work can be dull and uninteresting with many triggers points of stress.

There are little adjustments we all have to make to acclimatize ourselves to our jobs – it’s no big deal, right? But what if you’re dealing with large amounts of work-related stress? Or what if you, as an employer, have noticed your employees’ work slacking off as they exhibit traditional signs of stress? What do you do in either situation?

Below are seven different causes of workplace stress, along with the best coping strategies for stress:

Cause #1: Lack of good relationships with coworkers

We humans are social creatures who need interaction with other people, whether we like to admit it or not. Unless you work from home (and even then…), you’ll probably be surrounded by many, many people throughout your day to day life on the job. And that can be a huge cause of stress if you’re forced to work with people who are unpleasant and/or unkind.

While we should all strive to get along with many different people and personalities (since they are what make up our world, after all) sometimes it’s hard. The failure to connect with our coworkers can be one of the massive causes of stress in the workplace.

The solution? Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns about belligerent/difficult coworkers. And if your company doesn’t have a good system in place for dealing with problematic employees, lobby for one.

Cause #2: Not understanding your job

Not knowing what you’re supposed to do in your day to day job is really stressful and exhausting. Maybe things weren’t fully explained when you were first hired. Maybe you thought you had everything handled, but then your work threw a few unexpected curveballs. Maybe you were just never given adequate training for the task at hand. Whatever the case, being unsure of your responsibilities can be one of the major causes of stress in the workplace.

The solution? Go to your employer and let them know that you need some additional training. Chances are, they have no idea you’re struggling and they should be more than willing to walk you through what you need to know. And if you’re an employer reading this, take the time and energy to make sure each new employee understands exactly what they need to do.

Cause #3: Poor work/life balance

Poor work/life balance can be when you have very few shifts and have nothing better to do than sit around at home. It can also be when crushing new schedules make an appearance, leaving you no time for anything else). Both scenarios illustrate a poor work/life balance, which at can be very stressful.

The solution? Manage your time wisely. Don’t take on new responsibilities unless you’re sure you can handle them and still have time to enjoy your life. If you’re an employer, you need to set realistic schedules for your team unless there’s a sudden holiday rush. If your employees are overstressed, you need to invest in corporate wellness programs to ensure your team restores their work/life balance again.

Cause #4: Lack of recognition

You’ve worked diligently for your company, putting in some longer hours and doing everything you can to make sure things run smoothly. But none of that is ever good enough. No matter how long and hard you work, there is never any recognition or praise – not verbally or monetarily. The lack of recognition can be the common causes of stress in the workplace. Have you done something wrong? Is that why nobody really cares about your work?

The solution? There are few – if any – things you can do about this state of affairs as an employee. However, if you’re an employer you should stay observant and see who makes the best contributions to the company – and then follow up with a reward when appropriate.

Cause #5: Workplace harassment

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not new – and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The problem with harassment and bullying in the workplace is that it can often be started by a professional superior, meaning that employees might feel they have no recourse in reporting the harassment. This continual harassment can be one of the most dangerous causes of stress in the workplace.

The solution? There needs to be a system in place so you can share your story/concerns without fear. (This is similar to the first point made in this blog post. There needs to be a plan in place for dealing with difficult/dangerous personalities – end of story.) And if any legal boundaries have been overstepped (as in the case of physical/sexual harassment) don’t hesitate to contact the authorities.

Cause #6: Overbearing employers

As you may have already noticed, a lot of stress in the workplace comes from interpersonal problems. We’ve already focused on people who are difficult to get along with and bullies/harassers. But another aspect of this is the overbearing employer. Some employers are extremely smart – and they know it, and they want you to know it too. They want every single thing done exactly right (not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be taken too far). And when you have a demanding, exacting employer…stress can happen.

The solution? If you truly feel there is a problem, perhaps go to those higher up than your employer and respectfully explain the situation to them. And if you’re an employer, make sure that you’re running the workplace firmly – but fairly.

Cause #7: Technological advancements

As technology changes and evolves, many employees have difficulty keeping up. And when they don’t know how to handle new equipment and technology, this could be one of the causes of stress in the workplace.

The solution? Whenever your company brings on new technology, take the time to train everyone who will be working with that tech. You might need to do a quick training seminar, hands-on examples, or simply pass out manuals. And if you’re an employee, unsure how to handle new equipment, make sure to ask for a tutorial as soon as possible.

Momma Bird

Contrary to popular speculation, the author behind The Momma Bird is not of avian extraction, but she's simply a stay-at-home mother living a quiet life in the Canadian prairies. Now that all her lovely little birds have left her nest, Momma Bird has a lot of free time to write, muse, and reflect on life.

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