Numerous reports and statistics continue to affirm that job pressures and fears/anxiety are by far the leading source of stress for Americans.The demands and challenges of today`s dynamic and globalised environment,increasing performance expectations,peer and colleagues competitions coupled with personal matters create more pressure and stress for the individual which can take a heavy toll on the employee`s health especially if effective adaptive mechanisms are not learnt.

The NIOSH report on the right is an excellent resource that cites the following:

  • 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful;
  • 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives;
  • Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago;
  • 29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work;
  • 26 percent of workers said they were “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work”;
  • Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.

This information was obtained in the 1990’s in large surveys by Northwestern National Life Insurance Co, Princeton Survey Research Associates, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., Yale University and The Families and Work Institute.

The 2000 annual “Attitudes In The American Workplace VIGallup Poll sponsored by the Marlin Company found that:

  • 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help;
  • 14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but didn’t;
  • 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress, 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent;
  • 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace and 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year.

According to Kathy Wilson,author of “Be a Workplace Warrior”,stress is a common word used to denote anxiety and tension …arising from the flight or fight response that often overtakes us when we are threatened by events that are out of our control.

The present day workplace is ladden with “verbal stressors” which connote fear and uncertainty such as:lay-offs,redundancies,budget-cuts,salary-cuts, restructuring,misappropriations.These generate enormous stress on the mental,physical and emotional states of the employees.

A good level of stress is a necessary impetus for creativity,passion,excitement,new interests, and ambition towards extra-ordinary success.

An effective strategy towards stress management in the workplace is necessary given the complexity of pressures that threatens the employee`s daily work-life equilibrium.Effective stress management techniques entail is all about taking control or being in charge:taking charge of your emotions,your thoughts,schedule,your environment as well as your relationships with your colleagues.It is the resilience to hold on and face seemingly insurmountable odds head on.

Commons  Causes of Job Stress

  • Difficulty and inability to maintain healthy work-life balance
  • Office politics and conflicts among staff
  • Dissatisfaction between rewards and job demands
  • Fear of lay-off and salary-cuts.
  • Overlapping job descriptions and responsibilities
  • Constant overtimes and ever mounting deadlines
  • Ever increasing workload
  • Feeling powerless and isolated from issues that affects one`s own responsibilities.
  • Lack of effective communication and frequent strifes
  • Bullying and harassment by superiors

The responsibility of the workplace and management is to develop new and effective stress-coping mechanisms for optimum job performance.

A report : “The Quality of Working Life” published by the Chartered Management Institute and Workplace Health Connect revealed a significant number of physical and psychological symptoms with highlights on job job performance:

  1. Tiredness and Insomnia:55% experienced feelings of constant tension,fatigue and stress while 57% constantly complained of insomnia.
  2. Mood swings and Anger:43% admitted to being prone to anger tantrums and constant frequent suspicion of others while 31% admitted to a loss or reduced sense of humour in the workplace due job stress.
  3. Muscle Fatigue and Headache:More than 55% of those surveyed admitted having frequent muscle tension,body and neck pains.44% observed recurrent headaches especially during office hours.

The programm director at Workplace Health Connect,Elizabeth Gyngell posits that : “organisations should ensure their employees are well versed in addressing and identifying work-related stress symptoms before they escalate.”

Poor productivity and less rewarding work can result when workers`s well-being are affected engendering loss of confidence,irritability and isolation.

The ability to manage stress in the workplace can make the difference and the management of an organisation has a major role to play.

Andrew Okpetu