Enough Already: Five Key Causes of Stress in the Workplace

Many people have a love/hate relationship with their jobs. Some love the work they do but aren't fond of the environment in which they do it. Others like their coworkers, but they do not find their duties challenging or enjoyable. Still others feel totally overwhelmed with demands and responsibilities. There are strategies that can help with easing stress at work, but first, it's important to identify where these stresses often arise from.

Key Cause #1: Demanding Boss

Everyone has probably had a boss who insisted in perfection in all things. The smallest mistake is met with criticism or the threat of disciplinary action. On the other hand, perhaps your boss wasn't quite that dictatorial; it was just that he or she did not understand why a sick child necessitated you taking a day off or doing some important work at home. An overly demanding boss does not only cause stress in the workplace, but can also make an employee feel devalued. The quickest way to ruin office morale is to make your employees feel like failures.

Key Cause #2: Conflicts with Coworkers

In some offices, everyone gets along; in other others, however, this is not the case. A work environment is made up of a variety of people, and when you put different types of people in the same environment, personality conflicts that can be a cause of stress are bound to occur. It also does not help that, with the current economic climate, some people can feel frayed at the edges and possibly prone to shorter tempers than they might have under more optimal circumstances.

Key Cause #3: Workload

When a company downsizes, the work that terminated employees did does not simply go away. Those left behind are typically required to pick up the slack. This could mean that one employee is doing the work that two or more did previously. This leads to later hours, working lunches and weekends, less sleep, and more stress in the workplace. Managers often expect the office to run just as effectively with five people as it did with ten—especially because they have quota of their own to meet, and their own job security concerns—which just compounds the issue. An increased workload with no increase in pay or benefits can be one of the greatest causes of stress an employee can face.

Key Cause #4: Fear of Losing Your Job

After watching a series of coworkers get pink slips, you might well be on pins and needles, wondering when you will receive yours. You are overworked and might have already taken a pay cut, but management insists that your work must remain at a high-quality level. This is one of those causes of stress that keeps even the most even-keeled people up at night.

Key Cause #5: Lack of Communication

When you work for a company that is typically transparent, but that transparency suddenly disappears, this can lead to understandable speculation about what is going on. A lack of communication becomes a cause of stress, breeds office paranoia, and provides grist for the rumor mill. Before you know it, the whole company is packing up and moving overseas, and a twenty-person office staff is fighting over ten career postings on a job site.

What You Can Do about Stress

To alleviate some of the causes of stress in the workplace, deal with the issues you can control:

  • If you have a conflict with a coworker, try to find a diplomatic way to work it out. Often conflicts result from simple misunderstandings.
  • If your boss is too demanding, find a respectful way to communicate your concerns.
  • If you have too much work, try to delegate some of it to another coworker if possible.
  • Ignore rumors, and don't feed the rumor mill yourself.

Although you cannot completely remove stress from your work environment, you can control how you let it affect you. If you strive to lessen the stresses you can control, you will be better equipped to make peace with the issues you cannot. Understanding the causes of stress lets you identify them before they become problems.?

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