You know that feeling when you’ve “had it up to here”? Of course you do; everyone does, whether you’re an owner or employee. Stress has become a major factor in workplace sickness during the past couple of decades. Further, with the pace of doing business accelerating almost by the day, I imagine the issue will only become more acute. The result is usually personal misery, extreme loss of productivity and, sometimes, poor decision-making.
It makes sense to have a simple stress management policy in place. This involves taking action to reduce the likelihood of stress, picking up the signals when it does occur, facing the issue and helping with the healing process.
Stress on the Job
The plain fact is, though, that each of us has a different level of stress resistance and a different mechanism for coping with it, so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), early warning signs of job stress include headache, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, job
dissatisfaction and low morale.
Sheesh! I’ve suffered most of those myself – well maybe not the last two, as I’ve always made a point of doing a job I enjoy. The important aspect is to recognize when you, or another person, suffers these symptoms often and for prolonged periods.
If they are not spotted and dealt with, they could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, back and shoulder disorders, severe psychological problems, workplace injury (of course) and, worst case, cancers and even suicide.
Tips for Preventing Job Stress
Quoting American Psychologist magazine, NIOSH offers the following tips for preventing job stress:
- Ensure that the workload is in line with workers’ capabilities and resources.
- Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation, and opportunities for workers to use their skills.
- Clearly define workers’ roles and responsibilities.
- Give employees opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs.
- Improve communications – reduce uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects.
- Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees.
- Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.
To that, I’d add the importance of creating a healthy work environment (based on some of the issues I discuss in this chapter) and ensuring everyone takes breaks, including screen breaks, days off and vacations at the appropriate time, no matter how busy you are. That means you as well!
What You Should Do About Job Stress
If you suspect that you are or another person is suffering from stress, then you or that person needs to seek professional help; it’s beyond the scope of this book to offer meaningful, effective suggestions. But, whatever you do, don’t shrug it off. Stress is real and it can be a killer.
To learn more, check out some of our other resources on workplace safety and workers’ compensation insurance. If you have any questions, please contact our Johnson City, Tennessee office at (423) 292-4142, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to give you more information and help you with any of your questions.