The Stress In Workplace: Major Causes , Affects & Way To Alleviate

Md. Uzzwal Hayder


In today’s competitive world, stress is an inevitable part of our life. Every day we all are getting stressed due to some or other reasons.

It doesn’t mean that we have to live with and get used to it. What’s required is that we all need to be aware of and find the ways to control or manage it.

 Employees stress is a growing concern for organizations today. Stress can be defined as a lively circumstance in which people face constraints, opportunities, or loss of something they desire and for which the consequence is both unpredictable as well as crucial. Stress is the response of people to the unreasonable/excessive pressure or demands placed on them.

Everyone experiences stress in different ways. So, you have to find the triggers of stress for yourself?

Do you recognize that you are suffering from stress in your workplace?

If the answer is yes, then you need to recognize the causes of stress

Read on to find out various factors which lead to stress in the workplace.

It is important to know the main causes of stress in the workplace so you can take steps to control or manage it.

Don’t jump directly to managing the stress. To control or manage stress in the workplace, you first need to understand why it happens?


Let’s look at some major Causes of Stress in the Workplace:

1.Job Insecurity:

 This is the most important factor responsible for work stress in employees. Today’s economy is very uncertain, and competition is very high.

Both these factors drive companies to go for cost-cutting measures and layoffs. The same reason drives companies to increase workload and expectations.

As a result, the fear of losing the job and meeting high demands causes undue stress in employees.

In such times, the pressure of performance also increases. This situation provides an opportunity to the employee to showcase their capability and strength.

Retained employees work overtime. When the economy is bad, people don’t have any other option but to perform better than expectations. Such high expectations from any individual causes stress in the workplace.


The most obvious cause of stress in the workplace is a high workload.

  1. Overload

The Present Industry trend is to keep limited employees and use them in an effective way.

There are two reasons behind the above logic, organizations want to know:

To what extent employees are working smarter

Whether employees are doing the same thing they have always done, with the extra workload.

Due to an increase in job demand, an employee has to work more than the usual

Superiors expect them to complete the large amount of work in a very short time or before the deadline.

Any employee gets stressed in this kind of deadline-driven environment. High expectation and high workload are also one of the reasons for the causes of stress in the workplace.

Unfortunately, high workloads are becoming more prominent as more companies try to cut financial corners by reducing the number of people working on larger workloads – which puts more and more pressure on fewer employees.

Sometimes demands of the job don’t match with the employee skillset. But still, an employee is assigned the task and has to strain his every nerve to finish the task as per superior expectation.

If required, he needs to stretch extra hours to complete the task. Because the deadlines for the task are also unrealistic.

  1. b) Under Load

Under load is a situation where employees have to do less work in more time. In such cases, employees start questioning about their capacity and feels stressed.


3.Lack of Training and Resources

It’s very difficult to match the job demand if an employee is not trained and available for the project.

If an employee is trained and available for the project, then he can execute the task and meet the quality and deadline requirements.

But if an employee works on a task in which his skill set doesn’t match the job requirement. Then the demands from deadlines to task quality will cause stress and he will get nervous.

The stress level will be very high at any time. Apart from it, the danger of losing job also looms large if an employee is not able to perform as per expectations.

4.Lack of Control Over Work Activities

If employees are given responsibility but no authority in their work, it creates stress in the workplace.

They also lose interest in their work since they don’t have any control or decision-making power in their jobs.

5.Managerial Style

The controlling style of managers also affects the stresses of the employees. Managers with an autocratic style of control give very little freedom to the employees in decision making and planning.

So, employees working under such managers get stressed due to very less control over their work and very high restrictions.

6.Working Hours

Extended and very odd working hours may lead to many physiological problems in employees which may lead to stress during work.


New technologies are coming every day. Employees feel a lot of stress to keep themselves up to date with the latest developments.

8.Organizational change

The organizational change affects employees in a different way. Everyone doesn’t encourage and feel comfortable after the change. Some employees welcome the change, but others find it stressful.

Change in the organizational structure, policy, process or procedures, team, one’s job, cultural or work environmental changes, all create fear and stress for employees if they are not managed and communicated well.

9.Challenge in Work

Employee likes challenging work in their job – not overworked, not underworked, but the right balance where they feel comfortable.

Imagine that there is no challenge in your job. Will you enjoy your job or get bored doing the same work?

So work stress should not get confused with the challenge. Challenges motivate you to learn and master new skills. The most important aspect of productive work is the challenge.

If challenges are less, stress will be less. If challenges are more, stress will be more.

For example: If a lower role is given to a more educated and qualified employee. He will get bored or feels like he is going through the motions and stressed.

10.Conflict with Manager or Colleagues

Conflict or difficulties in getting along with co-workers and colleagues at work. Such as one’s boss, is a common cause of stress in the workplace.

11.Personal Problems

Family issues or personal problems create stress in an employee who is already overburdened with the workload. This is also one of the most common causes of stress in the workplace.

An employee couldn’t concentrate and focus on the tasks which are on their hand due to these reasons.  Thus the mounting work pressure increases the stress factor further.

12.0Bullying or Harassment

Physical harassment in the workplace is another cause of stress in employees.

Female employees face the higher risk of physical and sexual harassment at work. Stress due to this factor has become quite common.


13.Work-Life Balance

An employee should have complete trust in the employer. The higher the mutual trust between the employer and employees, the lower will be the stress level inside the organization and improved performance.

You should remember that a balance between work and personal life is essential otherwise work pressure and the resulting stress has the potential to disrupt someone’s personal life also.

14.Random Interruptions

This is one of the biggest sufferings in the workplace. It causes stress, disruptions, and unnecessary stretching during the working hours.

A study shows an average 28% of productivity is lost due to interruptions. How it affects us?

It adds up extra 2.25 hours of work out of an eight-hour workday!

As a result, an employee has to either stay late or start early in order to meet deadlines. If it happens all day long, then it will affect stress levels and increase frustration.

For example, Telephonic calls, walk-in visits, frequent usage of internet, email alerts and supervisor’s demands


15.No Feedback – Good or Bad

If regular feedbacks are not provided to the employee about their performance. They feel stressed about how well they are doing. They want to know how they are performing, whether they are meeting expectations or not.

We should provide regular and constructive feedback to the employees. Feedback helps people feel like they are progressing in their work and achieving their goals.


16. Worrying about events that have not happened yet

Many employees think about those events which have not occurred. This mentality makes them stressed thinking about something that may or may not happen.


17. No Appreciation

No reward or recognition for appreciating employee’s participation creates stress that endangers future efforts.


 18. Many Activities at the same time

Irrespective of whether you are a good multi-tasker or not. Working on too many things at the same time is stressful.


19. Poor Communication and Response Mechanisms

Poor communication and weak flow of information inside the organization also becomes a cause of dissatisfaction and stress for you.

If you don’t have the freedom to talk about your needs, concerns, and frustration. It causes stress in the workplace.


20. Lack of Support

No proper support from your boss or co-workers at work causes stress for you.


21. Poor Working Relationships

Employees don’t get along with another employee on a team. A lot of factors are the reason behind this. Personality clash, ego, etc.

A company should promote positive behaviors at work to avoid conflict and ensure fairness. A system should be in place to report unacceptable behavior.

Read more about the Conclusion

The Effect of Stress on Body, Mind, Emotions & Behavior
Body Mind Emotions Behavior
Headaches and Migraines Too much worry and depression Losing temper More prone to accidents
Muscles become tense Blurred thinking Change in mood Losing appetite
Frequent Infections Impaired judgment Losing confidence Develop insomnia
Sleep disorders Nightmares Lack of focus Drinking and smoking more
Skin Irritations Negativity Irritable Moe sensitive or aggressive
Vision problems Depression Substance abuse
Fatigue Alienated Poor decision making
Breathlessness Apprehensive Lack of interest
Heart disease Decreased work performance
Aches and Pains Sabotage
Chest pain Isolating from others
Frequent colds Losing sense of humor
Teeth Grinding Demotivated
Backaches Frustration and impatience
Peptic ulcers
Heartbeat faster


Symptoms Of Stress At Workplace

  • Absenteeism, escaping from work responsibilities, arriving late, leaving early, etc.
  • High labor turnover
  • Deterioration in work performance, more of error work, memory loss, etc.
  • Over-reacting, arguing, getting irritated, anxiety, etc.
  • Improper eating habits (over-eating or under-eating), excessive smoking and drinking, sleeplessness, etc.
  • Poor time keeping
  • Poor performance and productivity
  • Low morale
  • Poor motivation
  • Increased employee complaints
  • More conflicts
  • Increased Job dissatisfaction
  • Increased ill-health, accidents and incidents report

Source of Stress:

The factors leading to stress among individual are called as stressors. Some of the factors/stressors acting on employees are-

  1. Organizational factors- With the growth in organizational stress and complexity, there is increase in organizational factors also which cause stress among employees. Some of such factors are-
    1. Discrimination in pay/salary structure
    2. Strict rules and regulations
    3. Ineffective communication
    4. Peer pressure
    5. Goals conflicts/goals ambiguity
    6. More of centralized and formal organization structure
    7. Less promotional opportunities
    8. Lack of employee’s participation in decision-making
    9. Excessive control over the employees by the managers
  2. Individual factors- There are various expectations which the family members, peer, superior and subordinates have from the employee. Failure to understand such expectations or to convey such expectations lead to role ambiguity/role conflict which in turn causes employee stress. Other individual factors causing stress among employees are inherent personality traits such as being impatient, aggressive, rigid, feeling time pressure always, etc. Similarly, the family issues, personal financial problems, sudden career changes all lead to stress.
  3. Job concerning factors- Certain factors related to job which cause stress among employees are as follows-
    1. Monotonous nature of job
    2. Unsafe and unhealthy working conditions
    3. Lack of confidentiality
    4. Crowding
  4. Extra-organizational factors- There are certain issues outside the organization which lead to stress among employees. In today’s modern and technology savvy world, stress has increased. Inflation, technological change, social responsibilities and rapid social changes are other extra-organizational factors causing stress.

Strategies For Managing Stress

Stress experienced by the employees in their job has negative impact on their health, performance and their behavior in the organization. Thus, stress needs to be managed effectively so as to set off these harmful consequences. Strategies for managing stress are as follows-

Organizational Strategies For Managing Stress:

  1. Encouraging more of organizational communication with the employees so that there is no role ambiguity/conflict. Effective communication can also change employee views. Managers can use better signs and symbols which are not misinterpreted by the employees.
  2. Encourage employees’ participation in decision-making. This will reduce role stress.
  3. Grant the employee’s greater independence, meaningful and timely feedback, and greater responsibility.
  4. The organizational goals should be realistic, stimulating and particular. The employees must be given feedback on how well they are heading towards these goals.
  5. Encourage decentralization.
  6. Have a fair and just distribution of incentives and salary structure.
  7. Promote job rotation and job enrichment.
  8. Create a just and safe working environment.
  9. Have effective hiring and orientation procedure.
  10. Appreciate the employees on accomplishing and over-exceeding their targets


Individual Strategies For Managing Stress In Workplace:

  1. The employees should make a “to-do” list daily, prioritize the acts in the list and plan the acts accordingly. Take regular breaks during work to relax you. By effective time management, the employees can achieve their targets timely and can meet work pressures and, thus, avoid stress.
  2. Do hard work. Strive to achieve your goals but do not do it to the harm of family, health, or peer.
  3. Indulge in physical exercises. It helps in effective blood circulation, keeps you fit, diverts mind from work pressures.
  4. Encourage a healthy lifestyle. Take a regular sleep, have plenty of water, have healthy eating habits. Promote relaxation techniques such as yoga, listening music and meditation.
  5. The employees should have optimistic approach about their work. They should avoid connections with negative approach employees.
  6. The employees should have emotional intelligence at workplace. They should have self-awareness, self-confidence and self-control at workplace.
  7. The employees should build social support. They should have close connections with trustworthy peer who can listen to their problems and boost their confidence level. This social network will help the employees to overcome stress.
  8. Employee counselling is a very good strategy to overcome employee stress. Through counselling, employees can become aware of their strengths and how to develop those strengths; their weaknesses and how to eliminate them; and they can develop strategies for changing their behavior. Employees are also given career counselling which helps in reducing their ambiguities with regard to career.
  9. Find a fun way to release stress, such as, cracking jokes, playing tennis, golf, etc.
  10. Do not remain pre-occupied with yourself. Turn your focus outwards. Help others. This will release some stress.

Writer: HR Professional 

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