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Is Stress Affecting Your Work Performance?

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May 26, 2020 | Published by


Do you find yourself suffering from workplace stress? Tight deadlines, long hours, and ever-growing demands are not uncommon in the contemporary work culture. It can be difficult to remain focused and able to meet new challenges when you feel constantly fatigued.1

Some stress can help us strive at work, acting as a motivator to meet deadlines and complete what seemed impossible before. However, when stress becomes chronic and more than you can handle, it not only decreases your job productivity and satisfaction but can also cause damage to your body and mind.2

According to surveys from The American Institute of Stress, 40% of workers reported that their job was very or extremely stressful, while another 65% of laborers stated that workplace stress had caused them difficulties. Many of the other statistics proved staggering:

  • 42% report that yelling and other verbal abuse is common
  • 62% end the day with work-related neck pain
  • Over half said they often spend 12-hour days on work related duties and an equal number frequently skip lunch because of the stress of job demands
  • 26% of workers said they were often or very often burned out or stressed by their work
  • 10% said they work in an atmosphere where physical violence has occurred because of job stress and in this group 19%, or almost one in five respondents, had quit a previous position because of job stress and nearly one in four have been driven to tears because of workplace stress

Stress-Related Job Conditions2

The design of tasks: Some flaws in task design include: infrequent rest breaks, heavy workload, long work hours and shiftwork, chaotic and rote tasks that have little inherent meaning, not taking advantage of workers’ skills, and providing little sense of control

Management style: Little or no participation by workers in decision making, lack of communication in the organization, few family-friendly policies

Interpersonal relationships: Inadequate social environment and little support or help from coworkers and supervisors

Work roles: Uncertain or conflicting job expectations, excessive responsibility, too many “hats to wear”

Career concerns: Job insecurity and absence of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; many changes for which workers are unprepared

Early Warning Signs of Job Stress

Many stressors that come with the job can be minimized or even avoided. Some early job stress warning signs include:

  • Low morale
  • Short temper
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Frequent headaches
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Upset stomach
  • Job dissatisfaction/lack of interest
  • Decrease in motivation

How stress affects the workplace

Stress-Related Absences

While many employers presume that stressful working conditions are a necessary evil, research has proved this to be untrue. Studies have shown us that stressful working settings are more closely associated with tardiness and increased absenteeism, as well as an increase in workers’ desire to leave their jobs, which all have an unfavorable effect on the bottom line.2

Workplace Safety

Safety + Health Magazine reports that stress can contribute to an uptick in workplace-related accidents. “It’s very clear that a big proportion of safety problems are due to human error, and some of that is related to stress,” says Stanford Center medical director Dr. David Spiegel.3

While some of this can be attributed to stress coping habits, such as abusing alcohol or medication while off the clock, the magazine also reports that stress can make a worker less focused on the task at hand. And when a worker is less attentive to their job, it can lead to accidents, injury, or worse.3

Toxic Work Environments

Chronic stress can bring out the worst in us, giving us a short temper and making us hostile to those around us. This can be especially true at our places of work, which can lead to workplace bullying. While a workplace bully is often born from someone in a stressed-out situation, the damage it inflicts on others often causes even more stress.4 Thankfully there are many methods to help you deal with toxic coworkers.

How to Change the Organization to Prevent Job Stress2

Often, the employer steps in to alleviate stressful situations. According to the American Psychologist Association, some effective ways to prevent job stress include:

  •  Ensure that the workload is in line with workers’ capabilities and resources
  • Devise jobs to provide meaning, stimulation, and opportunities for workers to use their skills
  • Clearly define workers’ responsibilities and roles
  • Give workers opportunities to take part in decision making and actions affecting their jobs
  • Improve communications by reducing any uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among coworkers
  • Establish work schedules that are in-line with demands and responsibilities outside the job

Unfortunately, a constant state of stress has become the status quo for many working adults. “Most of us work more than eight hours a day,” writes How to Be Happy at Work author Annie McKee, PhD. “That means that if we are unhappy at work, we are miserable from more than a third of our lives.” She adds, “Some people face the reality of their unhappy work situation only as a result of a heart attack, a broken relationship, or a tragedy. Don’t wait that long.”5

References:

  1. Stress at Work. HelpGuide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-in-the-workplace.htm
  2. Workplace Stress. The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress
  3. Stress on the job can impact workplace safety. Total Safety. https://www.totalsafety.com/insights/stress-on-the-job-can-impact-workplace-safety/
  4. Emamzadeh, A. Workplace Bullying: Causes, Effects, and Prevention. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-new-home/201809/workplace-bullying-causes-effects-and-prevention
  5. Mejia, Z. Here’s how being stressed at work can hurt you physically—and what you can do to beat it. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/14/the-harmful-effects-of-stress-at-work-and-what-you-can-do-to-beat-it.html

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