Written by Samantha Carter

Approximately 70% of US workers feel that the 40-hour work week is outdated. Yet, the average American still works 40 hours or more per week. This, and countless other reasons, contributes to the outcome of roughly 83% of people experiencing some sort of work-related stress. While stress can be beneficial in the short-term, chronic stress can lead to hypertension, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and can also increase the likelihood of mental illness.

However difficult it may seem, it’s important to remember that there’s more important things in life than work. By considering the causes of workplace stress and becoming more aware of strategies to effectively manage it, we can foster a culture of mental health awareness that ultimately leads to enhanced employee well-being. Prioritizing employee welfare is crucial for both individual health and happiness as well as organizational success.

Understanding the Causes of Workplace Stress

While implementing strategies to manage stress is crucial, it’s equally important to identify the underlying causes of stress in the workplace. By understanding the various factors that contribute to employees’ stress levels, organizations can take proactive steps to address these issues effectively. Below are some common reasons employees might feel stressed in the workplace.

Excessive Workload

High work demands, tight deadlines, and unrealistic expectations can overwhelm employees, leading to stress and burnout. Feeling constantly under pressure to meet targets or complete tasks within limited time frames can take a toll on mental health.

Lack of Job Security

Uncertainty about job stability, fear of layoffs, or restructuring within the organization can create anxiety among employees. Concerns about job security can undermine morale and productivity, contributing to stress and apprehension.

Poor Work-Life Balance

When work encroaches into personal time, employees may struggle to maintain a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. Long working hours, weekend assignments, or expectations to be constantly available can erode well-being and strain relationships outside of work.

Inadequate Support and Recognition

Employees who feel undervalued or unsupported by their managers and colleagues may experience heightened stress levels. Lack of recognition for their contributions, insufficient feedback, or limited opportunities for career advancement can diminish motivation and morale.

Conflict and Workplace Dynamics

Interpersonal conflicts, office politics, and strained relationships with coworkers or supervisors can create a tense and stressful work environment. Negative interactions and unresolved disputes can disrupt productivity, increase tension, and impact overall well-being.

Role Ambiguity

Unclear job roles, undefined responsibilities, or frequent changes in tasks can leave employees feeling confused and disoriented. Without clarity about their roles and expectations, individuals may struggle to perform effectively, leading to stress and dissatisfaction.

Poor Communication Channels

Inadequate communication within the organization can contribute to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and confusion among employees. Lack of transparent communication from leadership, insufficient feedback mechanisms, or siloed information can breed mistrust and anxiety.

Workload Imbalance and Burnout

When employees consistently face a disproportionate workload or are assigned tasks outside of their expertise, they may experience burnout. Burnout is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced effectiveness, impacting both mental and physical health.

Organizational Change and Uncertainty

Restructuring, mergers, or changes in leadership can create uncertainty and instability within the organization. Employees may feel anxious about the implications of these changes on their roles, career progression, or the overall direction of the company.

Discrimination and Harassment

Instances of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment based on factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation can have profound effects on an employee’s well-being. Feeling targeted or marginalized in the workplace can cause significant emotional distress.

How Employers Can Mitigate Workplace Stress

Recognizing the diverse sources of workplace stress is essential for fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment. By addressing these underlying issues and implementing targeted interventions, organizations can mitigate stressors, enhance employee well-being, and promote a culture of resilience and productivity. By prioritizing mental health awareness and creating spaces where employees feel valued and supported, we can cultivate workplaces where everyone can thrive.

20 Strategies for Employee Well-Being

While establishing employee well-being is ultimately a collaborative process, it’s important to acknowledge that the employee is limited by the employer’s willingness to facilitate workplace satisfaction. It’s equally crucial to understand that an employee should feel empowered to request these types of workplace accommodations and leave their positions should those needs be left unmet.

1. Establish Clear Expectations

Ambiguity in roles and responsibilities can breed stress and confusion. Managers should ensure that employees have a clear understanding of their tasks, objectives, and performance expectations, while employees should make sure they are asking any questions that might arise.

2. Encourage Open Communication

It’s important to create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns, ideas, and feedback. Open communication fosters trust, reduces misunderstandings, and alleviates stress.

3. Promote Work-Life Balance

Encouraging employees to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life is a great way to promote their overall well-being. Implementing policies such as flexible working hours, remote work options, and paid time off can help employees recharge and rejuvenate. Individuals should opt for workplaces that encourage healthy boundaries and care about the personal lives of their staff.

4. Resources for Time Management

Training or tools should be offered to help employees prioritize tasks, manage deadlines efficiently, and avoid feeling overwhelmed by workload pressures. Employees can also look into tools that may help them better manage their time, including free calendars and project management softwares.

5. Foster a Supportive Team Culture

As an employer, it’s important to cultivate a sense of camaraderie and support among team members. Encourage collaboration, celebrate achievements, and assist during challenging times to foster a sense of belonging and reduce stress. Employees can contribute to their co-workers’ well-being by offering connection and care to one another, as well.

6. Stress Reduction Techniques

Initiatives such as mindfulness workshops, yoga classes, or meditation sessions can help employees manage stress levels and promote overall well-being. Taking time to center yourself throughout the day can lead to improved workplace productivity and satisfaction.

7. Taking Regular Breaks

Breaks are essential for maintaining focus while reducing stress and fatigue. Take short breaks throughout the day to recharge and refocus. It’s important to know your workplace rights when it comes to mandated breaks.

8. Growth and Development

Support professional growth by offering and/or taking training, mentorship programs, or opportunities for career advancement. Feeling valued and challenged can boost morale and reduce stress.

9. Address Workplace Bullying and Harassment

Create a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and harassment in the workplace. Employers should provide training on respectful communication and conflict resolution to maintain a safe and supportive work environment. Employees should speak up if they witness or receive any disrespectful comments or behavior from others.

10. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide confidential counseling and support services to employees facing personal or professional challenges. Employers should strive to make these resources readily available and promote an awareness of their benefits. Employees can ask if these benefits are available to them.

11. Physical Activity

Regular exercise is proven to reduce stress and improve mental health. Therefore, employees should incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Employers can further encourage these activities through onsite fitness facilities or subsidized gym memberships.

12. Autonomy and Empowerment

Autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of one’s work leads to empowered employees who feel more in control of their circumstances. This, in turn, reduces feelings of workplace stress and helplessness.

13. Recognize and Reward Achievements

Celebrating accomplishments and contributions is a great way to boost morale, increase job satisfaction, and reduce workplace stress. Employers should make this a priority while employees should be open enough to participate, no matter how cheesy it may seem in the moment.

14. Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Adopting healthy coping mechanisms such as journaling, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies outside of work can help to manage stress more effectively.

15. Prioritize Mental Health Awareness

Good employers should provide training sessions or workshops to educate employees and managers about mental health issues, signs of stress, and strategies for self-care and support. Becoming more aware of various mental health conditions and interventions is important beyond the workplace, so employees should make sure to speak up if they are experiencing any difficulties.

16. Create a Comfortable Work Environment

Ensure that the workplace is conducive to productivity and comfort. Consider factors such as lighting, temperature, ergonomic furniture, and noise levels to minimize stressors. Employees should be encouraged to request reasonable accommodations, as well.

17. Lead by Example

Managers and leaders should prioritize their own well-being and demonstrate healthy coping strategies to inspire others to do the same. By modeling positive behaviors, they can promote self-care and stress management in the workplace.

18. Enforce Healthy Boundaries with Technology

Encourage employees to establish boundaries with work-related technology, such as limiting after-hours emails or notifications, to prevent burnout and promote work-life balance. Also, employees should be responsible for enforcing their own boundaries with technology, too. It is perfectly acceptable to turn off your devices when you are not clocked in.

19. Mental Health Days

Employees may need occasional time off to prioritize their mental health. Offering designated mental health days as part of the company’s leave policies without stigma or penalty is a great way to facilitate this need. Additionally, employees should remain vigilant when they need a break and take time to tend to their mental wellness.

20. Advocate for Professional Support

Finally, employees should be able to seek professional help if they’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Workplaces can provide resources and support, such as therapy or counseling services.

Prioritizing Employee Well-Being

Prioritizing employee well-being is essential for creating a healthy and productive work environment. By implementing these 20 strategies for managing stress in the workplace, organizations and individuals can foster a culture of resilience to support more positive mental health outcomes.

It’s important to remember that navigating professional dynamics can be challenging and complex. It’s OK to seek help when needed. If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist or counselor for further guidance and support. Together, we can create workplaces where employees thrive both personally and professionally.

Therapy for Further Managing Stress in the Workplace

Managing stress in the workplace, especially when you have a pre-existing mental health condition, can prove to be incredibly challenging. Therefore, speaking to a therapist outside of work can help you better understand the difficulties you are facing while assisting with personalized strategies to improve your mental well-being.

Plus by APN offers a variety of therapy services both in-person and online to assist people with mental health issues as they learn to better navigate professional and personal affairs. From a holistic lens, Plus by APN offers a variety of traditional and alternative mental health interventions to better meet individuals where they’re at while guiding them through their unique needs and goals.

If you’re interested in learning more about Plus by APN’s therapy and additional mental health services, reach out today by calling 424.644.6486 or filling out the online contact form.


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