Stress in the workplace is common thing. Lots of deadlines, so little time to get the work done, receiving little support or help, conflicting demands, lack of control, etc. We’ve all seen or experienced some of these things throughout our career. But how do you determine if they’re signs of work-related stress or healthy on-the-job pressures?
First you must understand what the factors that can lead to work-related stress are. Knowing them will help you do two things. 1) You’ll be able to identify what’s happening in your office now, and plan to reduce work-related stress as best you can. 2) You can sniff these problems out before they occur. This will ensure your working environment is continually a happy place to be. So what are these factors, I hear you say?
Six factors that can lead to work-related stress
HSE.gov.uk has identified six factors that can cause work-related stress if not managed correctly:
Now that you know what these factors are called, here’s what they could potentially mean for you, your team or your business:
Demands – we may not be able to cope with the demands of the roles they fulfill or projects they’re working on.
Control – our employees may indicate that they’re not able to have a say about how they approach their tasks, feeling claustrophobic and uninspired.
Support – your colleagues and staff may feel like they’re not receiving adequate information or support to be able to do their job effectively.
Relationships – some employees may say that they’re susceptible to bullying/unfair treatment at work.
Role – our colleagues may indicate that they’re not fully clear on their role and the responsibilities of their job.
Change – your staff feel that they’re not informed/engaged when the company undertakes any organisational changes.
What’s great about the above is that these are easy to identify and tackle. Most of the time, communication in the workplace can be the core problem and that’s easy to fix. It comes down to trust and reliability, and as discussed in our initial blog – understanding work-related stress and how to manage it – there are plenty of ways in which you can build up that essential ‘trust collateral’ with your colleagues.
Signs of work-related stress
Now that you know the causes of work-related stress, it’s worth noting the signs that come with these factors. They’re easy to spot, but it takes skill to identify what is truly a sign of work-related stress in people and what is simply part of a person’s normal behaviour pattern. After all, you may know that one of your colleagues generally has a short temper, but doesn’t suffer from work-related stress. So here are some signs to consider (keep them in the back of your mind the next time you’re in the office):
- Being unorganised – we all have our moments, but if it’s unusual for a colleague to be unorganised, it could be that they have too many projects and too little time to meet deadlines. Be sure to keep an eye on it!
- A feeling of ‘I can’t cope’ – this is usually a sure-fire sign of work-related stress. Pressure can be a productive thing, but feeling like you can’t cope is a whole different ball game.
- Lacking confidence – sometimes when you’re not sure of something, you can lack confidence. It’s OK. But if under-confidence is continuing to show, it may be worth checking everything is alright.
- Self-doubt – we can’t always be 100% sure. Doubt is the inner voice that ensures we double and triple-check to be clear. But self-doubt, especially among talented staff, is a sign worth considering.
- Over-critical of oneself – It’s great that we always want to achieve more, but being over-critical and not recognising the good you’ve done can have a detrimental effect on your positive mind-set.
- Over-sensitive – take time to notice when someone appears over-sensitive. This is usually related to something playing on their mind, so it’s worth checking-in with them.
- Short-tempered – there are always moments where we disagree and can become angry. It’s managing that anger the right way that matters. Take time to notice when a usually laid-back person loses their temper, there could be some underlying stress that needs addressing.
- Loss of motivation – something none of us wants to see or deal with. Loss of motivation can be linked to self-doubt, lack of in confidence and a feeling that one can’t cope. This needs to be addressed immediately as something that is a sign of work-related stress.
More often than not, a colleague will show three or four of these signs, and in some unfortunate cases they may show all of these signs. It’s important to diminish the opportunity for these signs to occur by doing positive things that work towards either reducing these signs or stopping them altogether.
Top Tips for reducing or stopping work-related stress
The best way to combat work-related stress and worry is to take a step back, assess the current situation and develop a plan to increase positivity, productivity and general office happiness. Here are four tips to reduce work-related stress to get you thinking:
Praise others – a no-brainer. 67% of employees are motivated by praise from their manager. 78% of employees would work ‘harder’ if they were recognised. Need we say any more on this subject?
Praise yourself – not too much, but the right amount. Try it now: write down 3 things you’ve done well today and see how you feel after.
Try meditation – a bit left field we know, but here’s a study written by the Washington Post on the positive effects meditation can have on your entire life. Give it a read with an open mind…
*note* If you’re interested in meditation, try Headspace’s ‘Take 10’ challenge – 10, 10-minute sessions that will help you increase your mindfulness.
Get regular exercise – it’s no secret that regular exercise can have a positive effect on your body and mind. Exercise increases focus, releases happy chemicals into your body and generally makes you feel good. A lot of the world’s top CEOs wake up early and exercise before taking on the day. They believe that it puts them in the right frame of mind for whatever work throws at them.
There are of course plenty more ways in which you can combat work-related stress. Perhaps you’ve got tips of your own that you’d like to share? Feel free to drop us a line with your ideas and tips.