Having a job can, in many ways, improve your health and overall attitude towards life. However, many people face significant stress in the workplace which outweighs any possible benefits and even poses a danger to one’s health.
Job stress is defined as the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when the requirements of one’s job do not match the individual’s capabilities, resources, or needs in the workplace. Too much and consistent job stress can lead to poor health and even injury. Many people, regardless of position, report experiencing work-related stress at their jobs and this negatively affects their performance and both physical and mental health.
Job stress doesn’t just affect one or two members of the workforce. Many people experience it, and it needs to be taken seriously. Working under too much stress and anxiety is dangerous for your health.
The impacts of workplace stress
Workplace stressors can be classified into two main groups: physical and psychosocial. Physical stressors include noise, bad or incorrect lighting, poorly designed work layout, as well as ergonomic factors.
Psychosocial stressors are the most predominant stress factors and are the ones that go the most unnoticed. These include high job demands, poor work design, inflexible working hours, poor job control and structure, bullying, harassment, and job insecurity.
Stress in the workplace not only affects the worker but also has negative effects on company performance. The effects of job-related strain become evident in one’s behavior. These effects occur in a continuous cycle, beginning as distress in response to one of the aforementioned stressors. Distress leads to elevated blood pressure and anxiety, which increases the risk of coronary heart disease, anxiety disorders, and even substance abuse.
The impact of stress on cardiovascular disease has been well researched and workplace stress is a strong factor in this. Stress plays a role in obesity, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure as well as a heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that work-related stress can increase the risk of diabetes. It can also contribute towards immune deficiency disorders, musculoskeletal disorders including chronic back pain, and gastrointestinal disorders, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome.)
Workplace stress can have a very bad effect on mental health. It leads to an increased risk of anxiety, burnout, depression, and substance use and abuse disorders. People who are stressed at work are more likely to take part in unhealthy behavior, such as smoking cigarettes, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and poor dietary patterns.
Negative reactions to workplace stress result in reduced employee productivity, increased absenteeism, an increase in the number of days taken off for doctor’s visits, and increased healthcare costs that should be placed on employers. According to a personal injury attorney in San Antonio, serious injury can be caused by negligence in the workplace. Employers incur the costs of workplace stress through increased accident and injury rates.
Workplace interventions for reducing stress
Stress is preventable and identifying the potential sources of stress within an organisation is the first step in addressing issues. Effective interventions for reducing stress in the workplace can be classified as primary, secondary, and tertiary.
These are proactive measures that are taken to prevent stress by removing or reducing the potential stressors from the workplace. The following are a few ways that you can be proactive:
- Redesign the work environment
- Provide break and rest times for employees
- Up employee participation in decision-making and work planning
- Increase time and resources for completing specific job tasks
- Match job descriptions correctly with employee skills and qualifications
- Eliminate physical hazards
- Substitute equipment and technology for ergonomic options
These are corrective measures that focus on adjusting the way workers perceive and respond to stressors. These measures are aimed at improving one’s ability to cope with stress and detect symptoms of strain early.
- Training and education
- Cognitive behavioural therapy training
- Routine health checks, such as regular screenings for high blood pressure and stress symptoms
These are interventions for workers who are already experiencing stress-related issues. These involve providing treatment, rehabilitation programs, compensation plans, and return to work programs for affected workers. These include:
- Providing medical care
- Return-to-work plans
Workplace stress is a silent and often neglected, factor that plays a big role in employee health. It doesn’t only affect the workers but also contributes significantly to a decline in the overall success of a company. Employers should take this issue seriously and tackle this worrisome concern sooner rather than later to create a healthier, safer, and more productive work environment.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.