Pressure at work is a common occurrence due to the various demands in the workplace today. An individual can accept this pressure when it is on par with the knowledge, resources and expectations one carries. But when the pressure is more than what one can accept and it becomes unmanageable, it leads to stress.
Occupational or work-related stress is the result of unmatched work demands in relation to one’s knowledge and abilities which challenge the ability to cope with it (World Health Organisation).
What are the causes of work-related stress
The American Psychological Association points out that work-related stress is influenced by various factors such as workload, job security, physical environment and safety, autonomy, decision latitude, independence, level of responsibility, the nature and pace of work and the relationships with coworkers and supervisors. Therefore work-related stress occurs when:
- The demands of work are more than what an individual can process.
- Time to complete tasks is not sufficient.
- Professional life starts taking predominance when compared to their personal life.
- Either the job or role that an individual is carrying out doesn’t have accurate descriptions or objectives that guide their work.
- Responsibilities at work are more than that of other team members.
- Performance expectations surpass an individual’s training and ability.
- There is no support from co-workers and supervisors.
- There is a lack of recognition at work.
- The individual’s values don’t align with the organisation’s values.
How to detect factors of stress effectively
Factors of stress need to be detected effectively and dealt with promptly. First and foremost, observe signs of stress. This could be:
- Missing deadlines and drop in quality/quantity of work below accepted levels.
- Clouded judgement.
- Being sick more often.
- Feeling frustrated doing work.
- Feelings of inferiority and doubting one's capabilities and self-worth.
- Lack of motivation to complete work.
Along with observations, organisations can use assessments like satisfaction surveys to understand the level of satisfaction among employees concerning factors like growth opportunities, remuneration, recognition and rewards, opportunities to lead and develop others, etc. What this does, is to help one arrive at a data-driven conclusion on the areas that need to be improved from an organisational perspective.
A motivation survey added to the job satisfaction survey can highlight the factors that motivate the employees to stay in a job. When these factors are compared to the satisfaction survey, there is robust data available for organisations on what is causing stress for employees. For example, if 80% of employees are motivated by recognition and rewards, and one finds that 90% of employees are not satisfied with the way they are rewarded for the work they do, then that is a red flag to set the reward and recognition process right in the organisation. This way the organisation can effectively map the red flags and set concrete plans to improve processes. This in turn will improve work culture and increase well-being among employees.
5 Strategies to improve Well-being and reduce Stress
1. Set Realistic Targets and Priorities – Consult with employees when assigning tasks to them. Set priorities in a way that are realistic and attainable.
2. Encourage Feedback – Create a culture of constant feedback. Have regular connect sessions, use assessments, feedback surveys, etc., to find if employees are doing fine and if they require more clarification on roles and responsibilities or any project they are handling, ask if they are feeling fine physically and mentally.
3. Keep Employees Motivated – Organise informal social events to allow employees to build relationships with their colleagues. Build an Employee Value Proposition page in the company intranet for employees to read and understand and align their values with the organisation’s values. Communicate clearly on how their performance will be measured and what is expected from them, recognise their work and reward their achievements. Give opportunities for employees to voice their opinions.
4. Encourage Physical and Mental Well-being Activities - Organise meditation sessions and exercise programmes, create Employee Assistance Programmes, conduct webinars on mental health by professionals in the field, educate employees regarding help-line numbers they can reach out to for both physical and mental health issues. Actively put effort to promote their well-being.
5. Respect Work hours and the Right to Disconnect after work hours – The culture of disconnecting from work after work hours must be established in the organisation. Especially with remote work in the picture, stick to work timings and ensure that employees get to log off after working hours so that they can spend time with their personal life.
To conclude, organisations will continue to face resignations if work-related stress is neglected. Therefore, creating a culture of well-being not only de-stresses and improves the quality of life among employees but it also improves the productivity and employer brand of the organisation.