Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when there is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.
Stress is a prevalent and costly problem in today's workplace.
- 3/4 of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.
- 1 /4 of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.
- About 1/3 of workers report high levels of stress.
- Evidence also: suggests that stress is the major cause of turnover in organizations.
There are four main physiological reactions to stress:
- An area near the brainstem, known as the reticular activating system, goes to work, causing a state of keen alertness as well as sharpening of hearing and vision.
- Blood is shunted to the brain and large muscle groups, and away from extremities, skin, and organs that are not currently serving the body.
- The immune and digestive systems are temporarily shut down.
- Energy-providing compounds of glucose and fatty acids are released into the bloodstream.
- Excessively high workloads, with unrealistic deadlines making people feel rushed, under pressure and overwhelmed.
- Insufficient workloads, making people feel that their skills are being underused.
- A lack of control over work activities.
- Bullying or harassment.
- A lack of interpersonal support or poor working relationships leading to a sense of isolation.
- People being asked to do a job which they have insufficient experience or training.
- A poor physical working environment, eg excessive heat, cold or noise, inadequate lighting, uncomfortable seating, malfunctioning equipment, etc.
- Tiredness and irritability
- Reduced quality of work
- Indecisiveness and poor judgement
- Loss of sense of humor
- Physical illness such as headaches, nausea, aches and pains
- Seeming jumpy or ill-at-ease, or admitting to sleeping badly
- Increased sick leave
- Changes in working day patterns - perhaps by staying late or taking work home
You'll need to be proactive if you want to cure your job stress. Here are some fixes that address the causes listed above:
- If overwork is your problem, take a vacation, leave work on time as often as possible, and avoid taking work home.
- If you're worried about layoffs, all you can do is make sure you're prepared should that happen.
- If you find that you made the wrong career choice, or your career is no longer fulfilling, it may be time for a change. Make your choices carefully.
- If you are having conflicts with your boss or co-workers, try to work them out. Although it may be difficult to resolve personality differences, you can try to figure out a way to get along better.
- If your stress is having a profound effect on your life, don't be afraid to get professional help.
SOURCES: http://www.businesslink.gov.uk; http://careerplanning.about.com/od/wprkrelated/a/stress.htm
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