Stress at work is a central issue in the quality of work-life and employee productivity. It can be caused by a number of factors, including work overload, financial problems, or difficulties in relationships The lack of proper stress management at work can affect many aspects of our professional and personal lives. These include PSRs such as burn-out and bore out. We will present you in detail the different aspects of stress at work as well as our suggestions on how to combat it.
Understanding stress before managing it
Before introducing you to the techniques for stress management at work, it is necessary to understand the concept of stress. In this section, we will detail the different states and causes of work-related stress.
Definition of different states of stress
According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), work-related stress is the physical and emotional reactions of an employee. They occur when the demands of work do not match the worker’s abilities, resources, or needs. Three states of stress can be defined:
- Hyper-stress: It occurs when a person is pushed beyond what they can handle. It results from overload or burnout. When an employee is hyper-stressed, even the smallest things can trigger a strong emotional reaction.
- Hypo-stress: This state is the opposite of hyper stress. Hypo-stress occurs when an employee is constantly bored. It is also a state caused by being exposed to stress for too long.
- Adapted stress: This is a form of positive stress. It is the set of reactions of the organism that will lead to a state of physiological, but also emotional stability. Similarly, the body reacts well to stress imposed by external or internal factors. As a result, the employee is efficient and effective.
Causes of work-related stress
There are several causes that can lead to stress. There are external factors, but also internal ones, such as a lack of self-confidence. The main causes of stress are:
- Work overload: This is the feeling that is caused by having more work than you are able to do.
- Relational difficulties: This includes misunderstanding or strained relations between colleagues or with management. This can lead to anxiety and stress on a daily basis.
- Financial problems: Stress related to financial problems can lead to serious health problems. It can also cause people to feel guilty and isolate themselves.
Consequences of poor stress management at work
Poor stress management can have negative effects on your employees’ quality of life at work. PSR, including burn-out, and boredom, aare syndromes that can affect our health.
Psychosocial risks (PSR)
PSRs are elements that affect the physical integrity and mental health of employees within their professional environment. They correspond to work situations where there is:
- internal violence
- external violence
These different elements may or may not be combined and represent a risk to employees’ health. The most common forms of stress include:
- Chronic stress
- Bore out
All companies are affected by psychosocial risks, regardless of their size, structure, or activity.
Burn-out is a syndrome of professional exhaustion. It follows prolonged exposure to PSR factors. Christina Maslach, a pioneer in burnout research, characterises burnout as a syndrome with 3 dimensions:
- Physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion
- Cynicism about work
- Decreased personal accomplishment at work
Burn-out is the result of a lack of communication and pathogenic management in most cases. Lack of recognition, work overload, or mental strain, are examples of factors that can lead to burn-out.
Bore out is a syndrome of profound boredom at work. It is caused by an under-use of intellectual capacities. This syndrome affects three times more employees than burn-out in companies. Boredom can be caused by two main factors:
- Lack of meaning at work
- Pathogenic management
This syndrome particularly affects young graduates, employees who have been “put on the back burner” and employees who are overqualified for their position. Like burn-out, this form of exhaustion can lead to serious mental and psychological disorders in employees.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)
MSDs are disorders of the musculoskeletal system (the system of organs that gives humans the ability to move physically). They affect muscles, tendons, and nerves. They occur as a result of an imbalance between our body’s capacities and the stresses to which it is exposed.
There are many factors that contribute to MSDs:
- Physical stress
- Psychological stress
- Constraints linked to the organisation of work
- Individual constraints
These occupational diseases concern all transactions and sectors of activity. Without exception.
Stress management techniques at work
Stress is a central issue in the quality of working life and employee productivity. It can be positive, but it can also have serious consequences on the physical and mental integrity of employees. Managing stress at work is therefore becoming an essential quality to promote employee health. The latter can be personal and organisational.
As an employee, stress is a reaction that can affect us daily in the workplace. Rest assured; it is not inevitable. However, it is important to learn how to manage and prevent it in order to perform well. Several techniques can help you to do this.
Breathing has many benefits on our physical and emotional balance. Practicing cardiac coherence every day, breathing consciously, or practicing a sporting activity are essential tools for managing stress. Breathing is a natural reflex. But breathing well is a real necessity to evacuate the stress that can overwhelm us at work. It must be practiced regularly to have long-term effects.
Learn to say no
Saying yes when someone asks for a favour at work is often a way of helping and being helpful. However, we often forget that saying yes is also a commitment. It means agreeing to invest our time and energy in doing a favour. As a result, it affects our workload and can cause a mental burden. Learning to say no more often is a difficult but very important step in improving the quality of our work life.
Taking back control
One of the main causes of stress at work is the feeling of not being in control. Reorganising tasks is one step that can be taken to regain control. Specifically, consider including to-do lists in your daily routine. Try to eliminate anything that you consider to be of secondary importance. This means all tasks that are not a priority. By doing so, you will regain your composure and take considerable weight off your shoulders.
Stress in companies must be managed. Organisations have a preventive role to play in the same way as the prevention of psychosocial risks.
The company must favour a collective prevention approach. The latter must mainly focus on its work and its organisation. In order to be as effective as possible, the prevention approach comprises several stages:
- Collection of company data according to predefined stress indicators
- Analysis of the data to identify the sources of stress within the organisation
- Definition of an action plan and prevention measures
- Implementation of the action plan
DUERP (Single Occupational Hazard Assessment Document)
The purpose of the Single Occupational Hazard Assessment Document is to list all the psychosocial, health, and safety risks present in the company. The single document fits perfectly into the company’s prevention approach. Indeed, its objectives are as follows
- To record all incidents that have taken place in the company
- To assess the risks and risk factors in the organisation
- To detail the actions to be taken according to the risks encountered
- To analyse the actions taken and their results
Companies are responsible for the health and safety of their staff. Stress must therefore be managed by the company to guarantee a good quality of life at work.
Collecting and analysing stress factors within the company can become a real headache for Human Resources. At Teamii we help companies to map their constraints and opportunities in terms of quality of work life (QWL). Our weekly and monthly analysis of the different components of the QWL allows managers to better understand the obstacles of their teams and to find personalized solutions. In order to integrate a sustainable QWL, our teams have also designed a QWL platform composed of tools to improve the individual and collective performance of employees. You can monitor the well-being and feelings of your teams in real-time and boost social cohesion. Ask for a demo to learn more about our QWL platform.
Stress at work is not a new phenomenon. It has always been part of our working lives and can affect us significantly. For instance, the various burnout syndromes can impact our health and performance at work. Managing stress at work should become a pillar of companies’ psychosocial risk prevention approaches. Employees, for their part, can also work on their stress management. Breathing relaxation techniques practiced over time have already proven their benefits for many employees.
The eNPS is an excellent tool for analysing the professional commitment of your teams. It is internationally recognised and very easy to use. Find out how to measure and interpret it to improve the quality of work life in your company.Management