Workplace stress has been a problem for as long as there have been people and workplaces. But only in the 20th and 21st centuries has the problem become deeply understood. The American Psychological Association (APA) presented findings that 60% of Americans were greatly impacted by stress incurred in the workplace. Most of the respondents said that their place of employment was the number one cause of stress in their lives.

According to the CDC, workplace stress starts to register in the people they observe as work hours increase and as pay lessens. Living in the years immediately following the Recession, conditions like these have been seen around America and much of the Western world. But workplace stress isn’t the same thing as a job being demanding.

Stressed out business woman

Challenging work correlates with job satisfaction. People who are greatly stressed out by their jobs often describe their work as “soul sucking” or “depleting”. Work thus described tends to have a negative effect on workers’ lives spent outside of the workplace.

Workplace stress: An epidemic

But despite the fact that we’re all familiar with them, work-related stress symptoms could be considered an epidemic. These symptoms stem from situations we all find familiar. For instance, low morale at work often results from poor management.

Feelings of job insecurity or voicelessness may do the same. Worker confusion due to job disorder or poor training is also a common cause. Other common causes include danger on the job site, “glass ceiling” advancement limits, and even long hours spent indoors.

It’s also important to understand the stress on a molecular level, at least generally. Science has cast light on this subject in recent years. The fight or flight nervous response is inherent to our nervous systems. Essentially, this bodily phenomenon is the result of hormones the released when the body is exposed to danger or strain. This is helpful if you are being run down by a car or see your child about to fall down some stairs. It’s less helpful in the workplace where low-level stresses can release these anxiety-causing hormones at a slow trickle: a trickle that can have a lot of impact over time.

This trickle of stress hormones can manifest itself in many ways, including digestive maladies, headache, high blood pressure, ADHD symptoms, and many more. Many of these problems, especially heart disease, have become synonymous with American health trouble. To change this scenario in the workplace could have huge ramifications for American health.

Happy young businessman

How to combat workplace stress

Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize workplace stress.

1. Boost employee satisfaction

To combat workplace stress, workers must be made to feel valued and secure at work. Workers also experience greater stress wellness if they feel that their work is meaningful: something more than just a way to make money.

2. Eat healthy, exercise regularly

Other methods include providing healthy food options on the job and promote health and wellness activities in the office.  Persuade employees to exercise regularly – offering discounts for employees who want to join a nearby fitness club or similar incentives can help your employees to reduce stress.

Essentially, anything that can be done to promote happiness and wellness outside the workplace will also have a positive impact on workplace stress.

3. Create balanced schedule

Analyze and optimize work schedule and tasks.  Too much work with minimal chance for recharging is a great recipe for workplace stress.  Promote work-life balance in your company by incorporating flexible work hours, work-from-home options, regular social activities and outdoor get-together are some of the ways you should try implementing for your company.

4. Deal with distractions

In his book, Two Awesome Hours, Josh Davis, Ph.D. argued that instead fighting against distractions – noisy colleagues, constant interruptions, and so on – we should deal with them. You should allocate the certain hours of the day to do important tasks, and let everything else go with the flow outside that hours.  That way, you’ll enjoy reduced stress and improved productivity.

Takeaway

In the end, workplace stress is known and understood. It is up to employers and employees to work together to reduce its incidence, inside the workplace and out.