Workplace Stress

Dr. Purushothaman
December 5, 2013

Workplace Stress â€" What is it exactly?

The best way to answer this question is to briefly describe stress and then we can put it into the environment of the workplace.
Stress is the body’s reaction to the demands placed on it. It can be good or bad stress. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.
In the workplace stress has become a very real concern. "Workplace stress" arises when there is a conflict between job demands on the employee and the amount of control an employee has over meeting these demands. In general, the combination of high demands in a job and a low amount of control over the situation can lead to stress.
Presently as the world deals with the Global Financial Crisis the effect of stress in the workplace becomes more marked. Employers looking to preserve their bottom line start to make staff redundancies which in turn make their employees fearful of job security. Employers adopt different budgetary measures which inadvertently can place greater demands on employees who may find themselves with greater workloads and tighter time lines to compensate for the budgetary restraints or staff redundancies.
Employers in recent times have recognized the importance of monitoring stress in the workplace. The ability of the employer being to be able to communicate with their employees is paramount in today’s fast paced world and being able to test stress in the workplace is a good management tool that if used judiciously will lead to better staff retention, production, loyalty and a generally better and healthy company culture.
Some obvious triggers to workplace stress include a noisy environment, cramped working conditions, poor ventilation and temperature control. Work stations that have bad ergonomics, occupations that have a lot of repetition and that can lead to Repetitive Stress Injuries. Another form of workplace stress that may not be as easy to identify is workplace bullying and harassment. These are just a few examples that an employer needs to be aware of and take steps to rectify should they exist.
Today there is much greater regulation in the workplace to combat workplace stress and this is a good thing and gives employers good guidelines to work within. Also in today’s society the fear of litigation is an incentive to make sure that conditions in the workplace are up to scratch.
From a personal perspective there are steps that the individual may take to reduce stress.
Learn to relax, do some breathing and stretch exercises during the day. Stretching does not take long is easily done and can be a great way of releasing stress from the body. Organize your day so that you get time to do the other things you need to do apart from work such as family activities and duties.
Remember the old saying “Laughter is the best medicine” â€" well this is in fact a very accurate statement when it comes to dealing with stress. Try to put some humor into your day and workplace, a shared joke can be a great way to make light of what otherwise might have developed into a stressful situation.

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