5 Causes of Stress At Work & How Employers Can Address Them

A little bit of stress can motivate employees to try harder, stay focused and challenge their limits.

But some stresses present at the workplace are not good for everyone involved and lead to poor physical and mental health, burnout and lack of job satisfaction.

Here are 5 causes of stress at work that employers should do their best to eliminate from their workplace.

1. Lack of Training and Resources

Employees are often expected to execute tasks and projects above and beyond their initial skillset.

Most people recognise that this is a reality of the workplace. Very rarely are employees only given work that they are already good at doing, especially if one works for a company that intends to grow and expand locally or internationally.

However, what makes this a serious stressor is when employees are not given the training and resources to help them learn about their new tasks, yet they are expected to meet the high quality and tight deadline requirements.

What Employers Can Do

  • Ensure that every employee hired is attached to a mentor or a team that contains people who know how to get these tasks and projects done.
  • Make training resources such as online courses and work manuale available for employees who lack the skills/knowledge of certain job requirements.
  • Give a longer deadline for employees to figure out how to get the work done.

2. Major Changes In Company Structures and Policies

Change is always stressful, which is why major changes in a company’s structure, policies or work environment can be extremely hard on employees.

People working for companies that are being reorganised, restructured or reformed will often feel high levels of stress, especially if the changes are poorly managed or not communicated well.

Employees might disagree with the changes being made by the management or they might struggle to adapt to the new procedures put in place.

What Employers Can Do

  • Organisations need to change in order to adapt to changing economic circumstances, however, such changes should not be made all at once.
  • Inform employees of the changes before they happen and allow them to ask questions or clarify doubts beforehand.
  • Implement in-between policies and procedures to ease employees into the company’s new way of doing things.

3. Job Insecurity

Not knowing if you’ll still have a job tomorrow is every employee’s major source of stress at work. Especially if the above two stressors are also present and their company doesn’t provide training and resources for employees to grow or it’s being restructured and people are getting laid off.

With today’s volatile economy and competitive work culture, companies often choose cost-cutting measures and layoffs as a means of increasing their business’s profit margin, resulting in employees experiencing an increased workload and expectations as well as a constant fear of losing their job.

Some employees end up working overtime or doing more than they can handle in order to prove their worth to the company. Others job-hop and struggle with not knowing if there will be work for them to do tomorrow.

What Employers Can Do

  • Be careful when hiring employees in the first place and be committed to the improvement of those who are already working for you.
  • Although job insecurity will always be a struggle for both employees and employers for the good of the company, it is important that employers take financial precautions to reduce the need for layoffs.
  • Examine your company’s retrenchment policies and ensure that it is humane and reasonable.
  • Provide regular and constructive feedback to employees about their performance to ensure layoffs are not sudden or abrupt.

4. Unreasonable Workload

High workloads are becoming more common today as companies try to maximise their profits by reducing the number of people employed and demanding larger workloads of their employees.

An unreasonable workload might also be the result of shouldering the work of colleagues who fall ill, having more work to do because of problems that crop up over the course of a project, or attempting to make up for lazy, unproductive team members and superiors.

What Employers Can Do

  • Make workload demands transparent before employment so people know what to expect going into the job.
  • Conduct regular performance reviews that analyse employee workload rather than just focusing on results.
  • Provide reasonable compensation for overtime or rewards for employees who shoulder the workload of others.

5. Personal Problems and Workplace Harassment

Family issues and personal problems at home are some of the most common causes of stress at the workplace.

Having additional worries on top of concerns about workload, professional performance and getting along with people at work can be extremely debilitating. It is often also a downward spiral as personal problems lower work productivity which often exacerbates many personal problems employees might face.

Physical or verbal harassment from colleagues or bosses can also create additional ‘personal problems’ for employees.

What Employers Can Do

  • Create a workplace culture of showing concern for each other’s personal difficulties and discourage mindless gossipping.
  • Advocate employees help one beyond the workplace by taking the initiative to offer help and support for those whose personal problems are affecting their work.
  • Ensure an efficient harassment reporting system is in place and enforce strict punishments on those who are found to be harassing others.