Decreasing Stress in the Workplace

What is workplace stress? 

“Workplace stress can be defined as the change in one’s physical or mental state in response to workplaces that pose an appraised challenge or threat to that employee” (Colligan & Higgins, 2005, p. 89).

Frequently Asked Questions

“Research has shown that there are a number of factors that contribute to workplace stress” (Colligan & Higgins, 2005, p. 89). Please see the list below for some of those factors:

  • Toxic work environments
  • Role uncertainty
  • Lack of autonomy
  • Career development barriers
  • Harassment/bullying
  • Difficulty relationships with administration & co-workers

Early Warning Signs of Stress (CDC/NIOSH)

  • Headache
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Short Temper
  • Upset Stomach
  • Job Dissatisfaction
  • Low Morale 

Stress has been associated with many health concerns and can also affect worker attitudes and behavior. Some of these health concerns include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Ulcers
  • Mental disorders
  • Migraines
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Emotional instability
  • Disruption of social and family life
  • Increased substance use 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Managing work-related stressors is not solely the obligation of the employee as employers have a responsibility to protect and support their workers. 

How to Change the Organization to Prevent Job Stress:

  • Ensure that the workload is in line with workers’ capabilities and resources.
  • Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation, and opportunities for workers to use their skills.
  • Clearly define workers’ roles and responsibilities.
  • Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs.
  • Improve communications-reduce uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects.
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among workers.
  • Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.
  • Identify your stress triggers
  • Tackle those triggers
  • Time management
  • Set realistic goals and prioritize tasks
  • Know when to ask for help
  • Advocate for yourself expressing what you need to effectively complete work responsibilities
  • Take a break (Lunch breaks, stretch breaks, walks, etc.)
  • Have a personal and professional outlet
  • Take care of your body (Get enough rest, meditate, exercise, eat well, etc.) 

Additional Resources

  • Workplace Stress: Etiology and Consequences
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)


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