Managing Job Stress - Overview
Job stress comes in different
forms and affects your mind and body in different ways. Small things can make
you feel stressed, such as a copy machine that never seems to work when you
need it or phones that won't quit ringing. Major stress comes from having too
much or not enough work or doing work that doesn't satisfy you. Conflicts with
your boss, coworkers, or customers are other major causes of stress.
It's normal to have some stress. Stress releases hormones that speed up
your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. Stress can
be useful when you need to focus on or finish a big project. But too much
stress or being under stress for too long isn't good for you. Constant stress
can make you more likely to get sick more often. It can also lead to long-term
health problems such as
high blood pressure, back problems, and
Look for these signs of job
- Problems concentrating
- Upset stomach
- Job dissatisfaction and low
Most of the time, it's the
major sources of stress that lead to job burnout and health problems. Job
stress can affect your home life too. Here are some common sources of major job
stress, with examples of each:
- Lack of control. Feeling
as if you have no control over your work or job duties is the biggest cause of
job stress. People who feel like they have no control at work are most likely
to get stress-related illnesses. Here's an example:
- Shelly is responsible for putting together
a report that her boss must deliver at a 4 p.m. meeting. She's been waiting all
day for the notes and numbers she needs. Shelly finally gets the notes from her
boss at 3:15 and rushes to prepare the report and charts and to make copies in
time. She gets it done, but she feels mad and resentful. This is the third time
this week that this has happened.
- Increased responsibility.
Taking on extra duties in your job is stressful. You can get more stressed if
you have too much work to do and you can't say no to new tasks.
- John volunteers for every new project,
because he heard that's the best way to get promoted. But the tasks are
starting to pile up, and he's feeling overwhelmed. He knows he can't really
manage one more thing. But this morning, John's boss asked him to take on
another project, and John agreed. Now he's more worried than ever about getting
- Job satisfaction and performance. Do you take pride in your job? If your job isn't
meaningful, you may find it stressful. Are you worried about doing well at
work? Feeling insecure about job performance is a major source of stress for
- Raoul has worked in his new job for 8
months. He thinks he is doing well. But his boss doesn't say much, so Raoul
isn't sure. He wonders if he's on the right track, but he's afraid to ask.
- Uncertainty about work roles. Being unsure about your duties, how your job might be changing,
or the goals of your department or company can lead to stress. If you report to
more than one boss, juggling the demands of different managers can also be
- Rosa's old manager was promoted. Now Rosa is working for
someone new. She's heard that the new boss plans to "shake things up" in her
department. The new boss just hired Emily, whose job seems to be the same as
Rosa's. Rosa worries about what this means for her.
- Poor communication.
Tension on the job often comes from poor communication. Being unable to talk
about your needs, concerns, and frustrations can create stress.
- A new job with more responsibility and better pay just
opened up in Jill's department. Jill knows she can do this job. And she's been
with the company longer than anyone else on her team. She waits for her manager
to ask if she is interested. But after several weeks, a coworker is promoted to
the new job. Jill feels hurt and angry, but she doesn't say anything.
- Lack of support. Lack of
support from your boss or coworkers makes it harder to solve other problems at
work that are causing stress for you.
- Jeff works in a busy office answering
customer complaint calls all day. It would be easier to handle all the calls if
he could at least trade tips with his coworkers. But everyone else is busy too.
His coworkers never make it out of their cubicles during the day, even to let
off a little steam.
- Poor working conditions.
Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions, such as crowding, noise, or
ergonomic problems, can cause stress.
- Sonya is exposed to constant noise at work.
She wears earplugs, but at the end of her shift her ears are ringing. She often
comes home with a headache.
What to Do About Job Stress