Causes of Stress in Workplace

by Rick Suttle

Forty percent of workers indicated their work was "very" or "extremely" stressful, which can cause anxiety, sleepless nights and certain illnesses, according to a recent survey by Northwestern National Life. If you're ready to sock one of your co-workers, it's time to pinpoint the main culprit of your stress and determine how best to deal with it. Perhaps you need to get better organized, or a new career may be the answer. A number of things can cause stress in the workplace.

Learning a New Job

Learning responsibilities and tasks at a new job can cause stress. Every company has policies and procedures to follow, and it takes time to learn them, regardless of your experience. You also have deadlines for projects that require you to work at a certain pace. This can be frustrating and stressful while you're learning company protocol. You're not going to be able to complete that first report or create a department budget the first week. Meanwhile, emails from co-workers and meetings continue to overwhelm you. You can best manage this type of stress by getting up to speed on what's required of you. For example, stay late to study the tutorial of a new software application.

Increased Workload

In a slow economy, companies often expect more production out of their current workers instead of hiring more employees. This can be stressful, as you may now have to tabulate survey results as a marketing research manager, instead of having an analyst do it. This takes time away from your astute analysis and report writing. If faced with an increased workload, ask your boss for possible solutions. Help may be available from other departments that aren't as busy.

Boss or Co-Workers

Your boss or a co-worker may be the source of stress. Bosses don't always use the most effective management styles with their employees. For example, if you're creative and ambitious, an authoritarian boss may hinder your performance. Instead of allowing you to complete tasks that you know need to be completed, your boss may prefer micromanaging by creating daily "to do" lists. Similarly, a co-worker may be vying with you for a promotion. Consequently, she may be less apt to help you on an assignment, such as showing you how to query a database of customers. Co-workers and bosses can also bully others. Your boss may be hypercritical of your work and provide you with little guidance on what's expected. A co-worker may start a vicious rumor about you that causes stress.

Uncomfortable Work Environment

Most companies have policies against smoking, which helps employees with sensitivities to cigarette smoke. But many employees still must deal with pungent perfumes, colognes and hand creams worn by co-workers. These irritants can cause you to feel ill, especially if you're allergic to fragrances or chemicals. This can be extremely stressful because you expect your employer to provide you with a comfortable work environment. You may also work in an old musty building with a moldy ventilation system. If your work environment causes you stress, human resources may be able to move you to a more comfortable location in the building. If not, you're best recourse may be to find another job.

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