While positive stress can be a motivating force, certain causes of stress can actually damage work quality and work ethic. Not to mention stress in the workplace is more common than you’d think. To help, we’re highlighting some of the top work stressors and a simple solution to each one, below.
1. Unrealistic Deadlines/Expectations
It’s easy to get stressed when there’s a disconnect between what’s possible and what’s expected. Whether the unrealistic deadline is created by you, an employee, or a boss, it’s the worker who is blamed instead of examining if the deadlines or expectations need to be adjusted.
Sometimes you just need to address the deadline and communicate the amount of time that task or project will realistically take. It’s possible that no one knows the expectations are hard to reach, or that deadlines are too tight. Communicating those concerns with a superior could help address the problem. However, this should be brought up early on to keep everyone’s expectations the same. If you fail to meet a deadline, have an open discussion about what needs to change for next time.
2. No Advancement Opportunities
Excited to land a job and work your way up, only to find out there are no opportunities to advance? It can be incredibly frustrating and stressful, especially if you were looking for a company to stay and grow with. Knowing that no matter how hard you work you won’t move up, can create resentment and stress.
Instead of looking at ‘advancement’ in terms of a new job title or position, sit down with your supervisor and ask if you can take on any more responsibilities. If you are hoping specifically for a promotion or raise, and they explain they won’t be able to make that happen, that’s ok! Now you know that you can begin looking for a new job that will allow you some upward mobility.
3. Too Much/Too Little Work
You may think that having too little work wouldn’t be stressful, but not having work results in excessive downtime. Days drag on and make you feel extremely unfulfilled. On the other hand, being overwhelmed with an impossible amount of work can be just as exhausting. Staying late or working extra hours can cut into personal time, cause burn out, and even resentment. Whether you have too much or too little work, your workload should be a balance.
The best solution is an honest conversation with your boss. The conversation about having too little work should be simple. Let your boss know you are looking to take on more responsibilities or maybe they will be willing to shorten your work days. Telling your boss you have too much work should be a very open conversation as well. If you are an otherwise dependable worker, telling your boss you’re overwhelmed will help start the process in switching up your workload. Just let them know what you believe can help, and reinforce that you want to be at your best and have tasks be completed in a timely manner.
4. Work/Life Balance
A recent poll indicated that 53% of employees feel that a role that allows them to have better work-life balance and more personal well-being is “very important”. When the balance starts to shift in favor of work, it can be incredibly stressful. Long hours, busy seasons, and too much travel are all examples that may tip the scales.
Before making any moves, try adjusting your schedule during work hours to optimize your time first. Set to-do lists and goals each day and block out time for specific tasks. If you constantly get set back by email, learn how to optimize your time spent in your inbox. Instead of tackling large projects, break them down into more accomplishable goals. Don’t forget to factor in small breaks as well. Too many employees refuse to step away from their work when they’re overwhelmed. Stepping away reduces burnout and allows your brain to recharge.
5. Poor Management
Poor management comes in all shapes and sizes. Unappreciative, controlling, manipulative, unkind etc. Sometimes, the people in charge don’t have the best approach. It can easily make your workday stressful, especially if you interact often.
First, try to pinpoint what exactly it is that’s causing the tension. Is it a lack of communication? Do they misunderstand your role or you theirs? If possible, sit down and have a private discussion with your manager. Consider how you can help them meet their goals and objectives and form a better workflow. However, if this continues you could request a transfer or simply move on and find a new job.
6. Bad Communication
There are a few common communication problems that occur in workplaces. For example, things are constantly changed by management, and not communicated down to employees, management doesn’t communicate well with the subordinates or there is a general lack of communication throughout the organization. While they may cause different issues, they all stem from a communication problem. Not keeping communication open can cause confusion and mistakes.
Start with a discussion with the parties where there is often miscommunication. It also may be worthwhile to schedule discussion time, where any changes or updates can be communicated. If you are having trouble getting traction to the problem by yourself, ask your coworkers if they are having a similar problem, and then approach a manager together. You will have a much better chance of getting the issue addressed as a group if individually addressing it does not work.
7. High Turnover
Some workplaces just can’t seem to hang on to employees for a sustained period. Constantly having to onboard and train new employees only to lose them generates stress, minimizes workflow and can even affect company culture. Managers are overwhelmed from the constant strain on the budget to bring in new employees, and the employees who do stick around are stressed from the inconsistency of the staff. Working on a project with a team can be extremely trying if members of the team may not be there the next week.
The problem with high turnover is that it’s ultimately something that needs to be addressed within the company. To avoid this as a manager, explain the job requirements in depth when conducting interviews. You can also review the compensation and benefits you offer and keep them competitive to the market. Have discussions with employees to understand their needs and work to meet them, and lastly, create a positive work environment that is enjoyable to work in. As an employee, are you doing what you can to meet the needs of your position? If you are, and yet are surrounded by high turnover, considering a different company is also an option.
8. Poor Compensation/Benefits
Poor compensation and benefits can be tough to deal with. It can be stressful when you know you should be bringing in more money or have to figure out health coverage. When compensation packages aren’t where employees want them to be, it undermines hard work and kills morale.
Asking for a raise is always an option, but needs to be in the right situation. A great time to do it is doing a performance review or employee evaluation. If you constantly hit your marks and go above and beyond, it will be hard for a manager to turn you down. Make sure you are prepared to explain your qualifications, and what you have done to provide value. On the other hand, if benefits are the issue, you may want to approach your manager and ask about additional options. Since you started working there the company may offer different packages, so it’s worth asking about.
9. Physical Work Environment
Does your physical work environment stress you out? Maybe you work in an open office and can hardly hear yourself think? Or, maybe your building is kept too cold, and you freeze at work every day? Many workplaces have problems like these that affect employee productivity simply from a physical standpoint. Working conditions are often overlooked yet need to be addressed.
All too often, management is unaware of environmental issues and workers complaining won’t fix the problem (although it probably happens often). Instead, consider approaching a manager. Managers care about having an environment their employees are comfortable to work in, and will work with you/ the employees to find a solution.
If you have another work stressor that you would like to share, comment below!