Stress is a reality of everyday life, especially in the workplace. Of course, different people find different things to be stressful, as well. Here, we’ll review some of the biggest sources of stress to be found in an office environment, and what some of the effects of this stress can be.
Where Our Stress Comes From
While it may not feel like it during the experience, stress is actually the body’s way of trying to protect you. The nervous energy and hyper-awareness that come with stress were meant to help our ancestors survive dangerous situations, which in turn allowed them to develop more advanced cultures that allowed these situations to largely be mitigated. However, as culture developed, these reactions didn’t, and now come into play in the workplace environment.
This can be both helpful and problematic. While stress can effectively boost focus and productivity, the brain doesn’t differentiate between stress that comes from a physical source, and that which comes from mental and emotional stimuli. Therefore, a particularly pressing deadline can cause the same effects that a mugging would on you, both physiologically and psychologically.
Why This is a Big Problem in Today’s Workplaces
It is no secret that the workplace can very easily be a stressful place, for a variety of reasons. There’s a veritable laundry list of sources, known as stressors, that a work environment can easily provide. They are:
- Physical Stressors – These create stress on the body, and usually take the form of regular exposure to some uncomfortable aspect of the work environment, whether its noise, the presence of some unpleasant substance, or unideal ergonomics.
- Social Stressors – Those conflicts and poor relationships that cause distress and tension in the office, whether it is applied by an abusive supervisor or coworker, through harassment in the workplace, or even by clients and customers.
- Career Stressors – Many people find their careers stressful, perhaps due to a feeling that they don’t have many opportunities, that their job security is lacking, or even that they are overqualified for what they are doing. There are other kinds of stressors that are closely related to this.
- Task Stressors – Whether you’re under pressure to complete your responsibilities, they’re highly complex or mind-numbingly monotonous, you’re constantly being pulled away, or you just have a lot to do, your workplace tasks can easily be a source of stress.
- Role Stressors – Your role in the organization can also provide stress, especially if it isn’t apparent what that role explicitly is. Furthermore, if your work role interferes with your role at home, this can contribute to stress as well.
- Schedule Stressors – If you have inconsistent hours, work for long stretches of time, and often work long overtime hours, you likely suffer from schedule-related stress to some degree.
- Organizational Change Stressors – Change is uncomfortable, so when mergers, corporate downsizing, or new technology is brought to the table, it is easy for it to become a source of stress in the workplace. These can also contribute to the other kinds of workplace stress.
- Traumatic Stressors – These stressors are perhaps the most obvious and are most frequently seen in particular industries that are prone to traumatic situations. However, these can also take the shape of workplace disasters, like fires, floods, and other similar events.
Each and every member of your organization could be susceptible to at least one of these sources of stress, and as a result, each member could potentially have their health, well-being, productivity, and potential put at risk. Fortunately, by adopting and cultivating some policies and cultural shifts in your company, you can do your part to keep the work environment relaxed and progressing.
How to Remove Stress
There are a wide variety of ways that you can help to mitigate stress in your office, ranging from small touches to large endeavors. On the small scale, encouraging your employees to move around more on their breaks can give them a chance to release some pent-up tension and nervous energy. Starting a walking group can not only give participants some exercise, but also encourage coworker camaraderie. Be clearer and more positive in your communications to your staff, as this will make their jobs and responsibilities easier for them to grasp and empower them to succeed in their efforts. Staff lunches and Bring Your Pet to Work days can also be a refreshing switch from the norm, and a great way to have a bit of fun.
Even switching over the office coffee at noon from regular to decaf can help de-stress people, because nothing goes together better than stress and a stimulant like caffeine.
If the stress in your office is severe enough, you may consider implementing a few larger changes to your organization. For instance, excessive, generally purposeless meetings only serve to keep employees away from their other responsibilities, adding to the pressure on them. Eliminating these wherever possible will allow your staff to focus on more pressing matters, while other methods of communication can be used to get the message you needed to share, to the people who need to hear it.
Additionally, while we did say that changing technology can be a source of stress, a bigger source of stress can be the use of insufficient solutions. Updating the systems your employees rely on will make their jobs much easier, and ultimately reduce their stress in the long run.
At Machado Consulting, we specialize in solutions that help to minimize the stress that your employees feel when doing what they have to do – and we’re always here to help them out when they need it. Call (508) 453-4700 for more information.