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Coping With Stress in the Workplace

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 2 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Workplace Stress Pressure Workload

Workplace stress can turn into a very serious problem and is one of the major causes of employee absenteeism. There are ways to cope with stress in the workplace whether the pressure comes from an increasing workload, co-workers or dealing with the public.

Assess the Reason for Workplace Stress

Employees may not actually be aware that they are suffering from stress. But workplace stress can turn into physical illnesses and is a major cause of absenteeism in the UK. Stress in the workplace can be increased through factors such as a downturn in the economy with threats of job cuts. But more common reasons for workplace stress are everyday conflicts with co-workers, employers and members of the public. Such stressful situations and conflicts in the workplace can often not be avoided but learning to cope can help to reduce anxiety and pressure.

Signs of Workplace Stress

There are signs that should be taken as a warning that workplace stresses are becoming a problem. Employees who become easily irritated, become withdrawn from others and are absent from work regularly may be suffering from stress. Stressed out employees can often lose confidence in their abilities to undertake their work duties efficiently. Sleeplessness, headaches, loss of appetite, depression and concentration problems can all be symptoms of stress. If the reasons for the stress are not confronted the problem will simple increase and can lead to very real mental and physical illnesses.

Talking to an Employer about Workplace Stress

One of the best ways to deal with stress head on is to talk to an employer. Employee stress should be taken seriously by employers as it can impact on other members of staff as well as the sufferer. Other members of staff may actually be suffering in silence and affected with the same stress levels. Simply talking to an employer should actually help to relieve some of the stress immediately. Solutions to the problem should be discussed and a good employer will look for ways to decrease stressful situations in the workplace.

Consider Delegating Responsibilities

Taking on an excessive workload is usually guaranteed to increase stress. Many employees feel they must handle their workload alone in order to appear competent, even if workloads are being constantly increased. Delegating is a skill but many employees and managers would rather ‘do it themselves’ than delegate. If delegation is an option take the opportunity to decrease a workload. It is better to have work completed efficiently and on time by others rather than stress out for long periods of time.

Coping with Members of the Public

Dealing with members of the public can be extremely stressful especially in jobs such as retail and customer services. Employees do have rights that guarantee protection from abuse by members of the public. Dealing with difficult people does take experience, which is why there are training courses available on this subject. Keeping calm, remaining neutral and listening is one of the best ways to deal with difficult members of the public. If all else fails calling in a senior member of staff should be an option if the problem escalates.

Taking a Break from Work to Ease Stress

Holiday allowance should always be taken; there are no prizes for missing out on holiday leave. Holiday leave and breaks are much needed to deal with stress at work. Simply taking time off will help to put thinks into perspective if stress levels are becoming a problem. Taking a break can give time to asses the situation, recharge energy levels and simply get away from the workplace environment. Taking breaks during work hours can also help; some employers actually encourage employees to leave their desks and get some fresh air throughout the day.

Common Reasons for Workplace Stress

Anyone suffering from stress should asses the potential reasons in order to deal with them. Common workplace stress factors can include:

  • Personality clashes with co-workers or employers; conflict resolution can be a solution
  • Increased workloads including taking work home in the evenings
  • Not taking allocated holidays or working through the day without breaks
  • Taking on more work to appear competent even if the extra workload is causing stress
  • Sometimes it is the type of employment that is causing stress, and it may be time to consider a job change
  • Staying in employment long after the enjoyment has gone; this will simply lead to apathy and stress
One of the major causes of stress can be the employee’s attitude. Taking a job far too seriously or being a perfectionist can bring additional stress. Sometimes the best way to ease stress is to take a deep breath, let go and realise that not every workplace problem can be conquered alone. If stress is a constant occurrence, ask for help and talk to work colleagues and employers to find a suitable solution.

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