Dealing with Stress on the Job

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 28, 2008

Today job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health of organizations. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, job stress can be defined as "the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker."

Short-lived or infrequent episodes of stress pose little risk. But when stressful situations persist and remain unresolved, the body is kept in a constant state of activation, creating increased wear and tear to biological systems. Ultimately, fatigue or damage results, and the risk of injury or serious disease can escalate.

Job stress can be caused by a number of conditions. These include corporate culture, interpersonal relationships, roles and responsibilities on the job, how work tasks are designed, career concerns, and environmental conditions. If your workplace seems stressful, you can try to reduce it by considering the following:

• 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 and provide opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs.

• Improve communications and reduce uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects.

• Provide opportunities for social interaction.

• Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.

• Identify and promote strategies for employees to use to reduce stress day to day. These include recognizing the symptoms of stress, exercising, eating right and getting enough rest, learning and practicing relaxation techniques, talking things out with someone, and having a good laugh.

Being vigilant and paying attention to individuals and the environment can help you create a healthy workplace.

Mallary Tytel
President and Founder
Healthy Workplaces
Sioux Falls, S.D.

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