The top 7 causes of stress at work invite research in many fields. Businesses want to know the top 7 causes of stress at work in order to increase profits. Scientists want to investigate the top 7 causes of stress at work in order to fight disease.
However, you probably are reading this for a different reason. You probably want to know the top 7 causes of stress at work in order to reduce those in your own life. You suspect that if you don’t, you might soon become unemployed, ill, or worse.
Surveys show that of all the kinds of stress people experience along their life journeys, work stress tops the list every time. In the U.S., nearly one-half of those working in offices frequently discuss the causes of stress at work. You (unless retired or jobless) will admit, I think, that of all the stress you face in life, the worst is stress at work.
So let’s look alphabetically at the top 7 causes of stress at work.
TOP 7 CAUSES OF STRESS AT WORK
This cause of stress at work might hit you often on your life journey. It hits even before you find a job. You need a job – but will someone hire you?
Let me share an incident from my own life journey. Stranded in New Zealand when a school broke my contract, I had little more than a return-trip ticket to California, bus fare to a city I saw on a map, and an all-but-drained bank account. I had to get work fast! I prayed for God’s help, and responded to the only two job listings I might be able to fill. It took less than a week for a private college to hire me, but that week taught me a lot about apprehension.
Apprehension, i.e., the fear of failure, doesn’t end with securing work, of course. It can continue to cause stress at work. You may fear that you will fail to meet your employer’s expectations and lose your new job. You may fear that you will miss potential promotions. As such, apprehensions increase, your body can take that cause of stress at work as a threat and prepare to fight back or take flight.
Conflict rates as one of the top 7 causes of stress at work that you may experience. Both employers and employees are people. Most people tend to consider themselves first, but people come from different backgrounds and have differences in their work ethic. Those differences can lead to clashes as they hurl insults, express anger, and bully. People often pull down others simply to make themselves look better.
The more unfortunate conflict comes from managers and employers who should know better. Regardless of the source, however, conflict can disrupt your work, cut your productivity, frustrate you – and cause stress.
We all experience things we dread as we follow our life journeys. Two of those can become causes of stress at work.
You probably have heard that a dread of public speaking tops the list of things Americans fear. Little wonder, then, that a dread of public speaking turns up as a cause of stress at work. I’m not talking about a speech before a crowd. Speaking to a handful of workers can cause stress for many of us.
Similarly, the dread of working under dangerous conditions can produce stress. You may like the dangerous work, but maintaining high alert for extended periods can produces stress at work.
Stress at work has become such a problem that 40% of workers participating in a 2001 survey said their workplace resembled a “survivor program.” They feel as though it’s a dog-eat-dog world of workers and poor managers rubbing each other the wrong way until they feel raw.
Poor managers give muddled direction or no direction. Fellow workers jostle one another to keep managers from casting the “vote” that will push them out the door. Managers deflect attention by falsely blaming workers when clearer instruction from the managers themselves would avoid the problems. The stress of trying to “survive” such an atmosphere can become overwhelming.
Fifth in our look at the top 7 causes of stress at work, and a primary cause, is a heavy workload. A 2017 survey recorded 60 percent of workers’ belief that stress at work increased between 2012 and 2017. Many said their employers loaded them down with work. Others found themselves against tight deadlines too often.
You might feel bullied when a superior assigns an excessive workload. The pile of work looks far larger than you can possibly handle. It seems to press in from all sides, exerting an almost physical force that can ruin your health.
For a perfectionist, any workload heavier than what he or she can achieve to near-perfection standards builds pressure. It all results in stress at work.
When we lived in Japan, the hours people put in on the job each week astounded us. Japan held the record for more hours on the job each year than the workforce of any other industrial nation did. Now, Americans’ annual hours total almost a month more than those of Japanese workers – three months more than those of German workers.
Some superiors equate long hours with commitment.
Employed in a large New York City bank, my husband completed all of his work by the 5:00 p.m. closing each day. He caught the 5:30 p.m. train to our New Jersey home. One day, the bank president stated that he wanted to groom my husband for a bank manager position – with one condition. My husband must show his commitment by staying at his empty desk until 7:00 p.m. each day. My husband explained that, given train schedules, that would make him reach home at 11:00 p.m. He would see his two 7-year-old children only on weekends. The bank president replied that he must decide between his work and his family. My husband stated that he had already made that decision. He resigned, and faced weeks of strain looking for a new job.
Such strain is definitely a big cause of stress at work.
Tension is a top cause of stress at work. Picture the act of stretching a person to the point where that person becomes stiff. Interactions at work can stretch and pull at you, making you feel every moment as though you may not be able to keep your job. Those interactions can make you feel as though, even if you keep the job, you may never get ahead in that work. You may remain at entry level, with entry-level wages.
Tension among people with whom you work can stir up hostilities, too. When several employees think they are in line for a coveted position, they may gradually find it difficult to speak to each other in a civil manner.
The top 7 causes of stress at work all may affect you on this life journey. Face them by remembering that all kinds of personalities, strengths, and work ethics come together at work. Interactions among any of them can result in damaging stress, so prepare for them, and take steps to change the situation in a positive way.