“There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” - Henry Kissinger
The contemporary workplace environment is very demanding, quick-paced and increasingly uncertain. Pressure of deadlines, deliverables and working with difficult people, among other factors, puts modern employees under unreasonable amounts of stress. In fact, being constantly stressed out is so universal in America that many laborers have accepted it as unpleasant, but a way of life. While a certain amount of stress is acceptable and can actually be beneficial for you—keeping you alert and focused, helping you cope well with challenges—beyond a certain acceptable limit, stress is nothing but bad for you! Not only does it affect your mental stability but also your health, relationships, productivity at work, and overall quality of life.
People are different, so we react differently to the same set of circumstances; something that one person may find stressful, another may regard as only mildly challenging or even normal. How you tolerate and respond to stress depends not only on the particularities of your situation but also on what type of person you are; your natural inclinations, beliefs and behaviors.
While workplace stress is nothing new, it tends to insidiously build up, making you lose your focus and confidence, and feel more and more overwhelmed, and in the worst case scenarios it might lead to physical and mental collapse. If not managed properly, stress can cause your job satisfaction to suffer and your performance at work to decline. It goes without saying that if employee productivity falls short of expectations, management may opt to cut back on the financial rewards for them or even consider a more efficient candidate to fill the position. Stress at work is not something to ignore; it can potentially cause you greater problems that will only lead to more stress. Long-term stress can cause you to experience:
The two major consequences of inexorable workplace stress are employee disengagement and absenteeism, according to the Global Benefits Attitudes Survey from the professional services firm Towers Watson:
As reported in the third annual Work Stress Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, an incredible 83% of employees in America are stressed at work. These results reflect a 10% increase in the number of strained employees, compared to the previous year. Several years after the recession, people are still coping with its aftermath, as low wages and job insecurity cause employees to feel anxious and pressured.
While job security is certainly a critical factor in influencing the levels of work-related stress, there are many more determinants that can affect employee productivity, effectiveness and commitment. Different types of jobs have their unique set of stress-inducing aspects but, in general, the following stressors are most frequently cited by the laborers of all professions:
If any of these factors are affecting your work, you may want to consider the following five different options to take charge of your life at work. Doing nothing is not an option, so take some steps to alleviate the stress today.
Remember, you are not powerless, and the biggest changes in life can sprout from a small change in self.