But what is work related stress?
Well, if stress is ‘The feeling or state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from perceived adverse or demanding circumstances and the subsequent feeling of not being able to cope’, then work-related stress is when the perceived adverse or demanding circumstances are related specifically to the work environment.
Work-related stress can be defined as ‘the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker’. It occurs when a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them, specifically at work.
Whilst work is good for our mental health, when it is well organised and managed, when it isn’t, it can result in work-related stress, which can cause both physical and mental ill-health and can increase work-related accidents and injuries.
Work-related stress can affect anyone at any level of the organisation and when it does, if it is not identified and managed, it can also impact on others who work with the person affected which further impacts the wider organisation.
What factors cause it?
Work-related stress can be caused by a number of factors. However, people are individuals, and may experience stress due to different reasons, so it is important to approach every instance of work-related stress as an individual case.
Some reasons for work-related stress include:
- Work overload or underload
- Too much or too little responsibility
- Underutilisation of knowledge, skills and experience
- Lack of role clarity
- Ambiguous expectations
- Unrealistic deadlines
- Lack of decision-making in the organisation
- Lack of autonomy
- Lack of input in planning or method of activity
- Lack of resources
- Job insecurity
- Inequitable pay or worries about salary
- Relationships with colleagues
- Isolated working conditions
- Long hours
- Long commute
Whilst employers may take the view that work and the workplace are not the ‘cause’ of general mental health problems, the prevalence of it in employees and the impact on organisations makes the workplace an obvious environment in which to address the issue of mental health in order to raise awareness of mental health issues, promote good mental health practice, provide knowledge to enable early identification, provide skills to deal with and/or prevent issues and establish links with mental health services for help and support.