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Stress in the workplace Print
Stress: The reaction people have when exposed to excessive pressure or when demands are placed on them and they feel they cannot cope. Many people feel that suffering from stress is a sign of weakness.

Well , perhaps that is the first problem to solve. Believe me, Stress in the workplace is a major cause of absenteeism and staff turnover. So, if you are suffering from stress, you are not alone.

  • Symptoms of stress
  • Loss of interest in the job
  • reduced concentration
  • Decrease in work performance
  • Short temper
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeplessness
  • Increased smoking and drinking
  • Headaches, backaches, nausea
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Low self esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Long term effects of stress
  • Inefficiency
  • Incompetence
  • Absenteeism
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Marital or family breakdown
  • Social isolation

Work is considered as the main cause of stress in people's lives today. For some reason women suffer more than men.
And it's not confined to the high powered executives eithor. Blue collar workers who carry out monotonous repetitive jobs are also prone to stress induced illnesses.

There is an element of stress associated with any job.
In fact as long as the stress or pressure is positive and not too severe it helps us to concentrate and provides that stimulus to succeed.

The human body is conditioned to cope with the physical symptoms of stress.
There is an in-built mechanism which produces adrenaline which in turn makes the heart beat faster pumping more blood and oxygen through the body in preparation to fight or to flee.

At work, most stressful situations are not physical but mental. in the short term there is usually no ill effects but if the stress situation is negative and not resolved then the long term effects of high blood pressure, depression and anxiety will be experienced.

Poor working conditions, inefficient working processes, Management style and the inter-relationships between managers and staff can all produce stressful situations.
For example, an autocratic management style leaves the employee feeling powerless and unable to contribute to the way the business is run,
or, working in a poorly maintained building, overcrowded and badly lit.


  • What can the company do?
  • Provide good working environment
  • Involve employees in decision making
  • Provide written job descriptions
  • Train managers to manage people
  • Develop a crisis management strategy
  • Offer stress counselling
  • What can the employee do?
  • Learn to relax
  • Take time out to play
  • Avoid cigarettes, tranquillisers and alcohol
  • Drink less coffee
  • Eat sensibly
  • Find an absorbing hobby
  • Improve your time management
  • Accept that which you cannot change
  • Ask for help
  • Talk to someone
  • Do not be afraid to say 'No'
  • Delegate
  • Be realistic about what is achievable

There is no single answer to the problem. Each situation must be analysed individually. The most important step is for companies to recognise that stress can and is a problem.
Similarly employees must also take greater action to reduce stress in their lives, inside and outside work.

PROJECTmagazine (c) 1999

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