Stress can be caused by a huge range of factors, with each individual being susceptible to different stress triggers. Our ability to cope with situations is determined by our psychological state, physical health and condition, plus multiple environmental factors. What causes stress for one person may not affect another, and what causes stress on one day may not affect the same individual in the same way on another day. When identifying the causes of stress, we have to ensure that a wide spectrum of issues are considered, because it can be easy to misdiagnose the primary cause, and this could lead to a less than perfect resolution being found. Workplace related stress is not a simple case of the wrong person in a highly demanding job, it can be external factors which are causing their job to seem overly stressful too.
Stress.org conducted research which highlighted the following causes of workplace stress; 46% due to workload, 28% people issues, 20% juggling work and personal issues, 6% lack of job security. Here's a deeper investigation of these issues:
Stress Due to Workload
Workload accounts for almost half of the total reported cases of workplace stress. This covers a range of issues which are all attributed to the same complaint; that the worker cannot cope with the demands of the job role which they are in and feel overwhelmed at what they are expected to complete. This can be because new workers are unfamiliar with the systems in place, workers have too many clients to deal with, employers are expecting unreasonable amounts of work, staff shortages are putting strain on existing staff, or any number of other problems. Workload issues affect people at all levels of the workplace, as managers can feel burnt out when their teams are under performing and they are responsible for productivity. We have a business culture which strives to get more from less, increasing profits and reducing unnecessary expenditure, and this drives many of the problems as businesses are laying unrealistic expectations on their employees in a hope of achieving more. The problem with this is that it is largely responsible for the millions of lost workdays which are directly attributed to workplace stress.
Dealing With People Issues
The second biggest reason for workplace stress is due to people issues, and this is something which is often ignored during the planning and implementation of workplace practice guidelines. What many managers do not realize is that if there are personnel issues within a team, high levels of stress can appear, which affects everyone. When there is conflict between employees and they feel like they have been unfairly treated by others, or even bullied in some circumstances, people can become extremely stressed out. This is an issue which is hard to detect unless the managers have a clear understanding of what is occurring, yet one which can be devastating to the employees involved. Some people can cope excellently with the demands of their job, but are unable to deal with personal conflict in the same way, leading to high levels of workplace stress. This is an issue which causes a high number of sick days, as workers do not feel able to come to work and face the people involved.
Juggling Work and Personal Issues
Sometimes personal issues outside of work can cause stress levels to rise inside the workplace. A manageable job can become unmanageable, and this can flare up into issues when a person is bringing stress from their personal life into the office. This is a situation where a high level of personal management is required to deal with the situation and come to a resolution which is acceptable to both the employer and employee. This could be a slightly reduced workload for a period of time, a few days of sick leave, or another mutually agreeable resolution. It's important for employers to recognize that although personal issues may be of no concern to them directly, if it's affecting the workplace stress levels of an individual, the issue should be addressed head on.
Lack of job Security
The financial crises of 2008 saw a huge increase in the amount of workplace stresses related directly to job security. When there is unease within a company or and industry as a whole, employees can feel the strain of uncertainty regarding their job security. There are only so many ways that this can be managed, as more often than not, the managers hands are tied by the financial constraints of the situation. When a worker is unsure if they will still have a job or not next month, the situation can become overwhelming for them, and this leads to an onset of stress.