I ran into a former colleague at the subway recently and after we chatted about mutual colleagues and our lives, she casually mentioned that she was looking for other opportunities. Her last job had been causing her an unhealthy amount of stress, she hadn’t been able to sleep or even enjoy her time off because of anxieties about work.
She’s not alone. A study by Statistics Canada found that six out of ten employed people said that work is their main source of stress. What the study also found is that workers who are stressed about their jobs tend to be well-educated and have white-collar jobs. Three-quarters of them had a college or university education and over half held jobs in management, professional and technical occupations.
What are the reasons for job stress?
Lack of Job Security
Outsourcing, layoffs and downsizing all contribute to high stress levels. These actions affect everyone in a company. People who are insecure about whether they’ll have a job in the next few weeks won’t be able to focus and often suffer from a lack of confidence, efficiency and a lack of energy.
This category also includes contract and temporary work. Not knowing your work situation when you’re on contract can be stressful especially when the company waits until the last minute to either renew your contract or terminate your employment.
Office Politics and Bullying
Whether it’s the mean group at work or a boss who likes to play favourites, office politics is a top cause of job stress. This can intensify if workers have no outlet to complain or feel that there is no recourse to deal with the situation.
If you’re not recognized for your work contributions this can lead to resentment which could lead to a drop in job performance and stress. This becomes a vicious cycle and soon you’re hating your job and stressing out about it.
We’re not talking monetary recognition, which is always nice, but simple recognition by a boss for a job well done can go a long way. A lack of recognition also hurts a company as top talent leaves for better corporate cultures.
This category also includes a lack of feedback, good or bad. People want to know they’re doing the job correctly. Not telling them leaves them trying to guess and stressing out about their performance.
A Lack of Control
An employee who has no say about their work situation is not a productive employee. He is a stressed employee who feels adrift because all decisions that affect him are made by someone else.
Micromanagement and over-management are also sources of job stress. They leave no room for the employee to be creative, make decisions or make mistakes. Instead, people quit or go on stress leave.
The StatsCan study says that mental health problems which includes stress cost employers an estimated $20 billion annually. That’s $20 billion. Think about that. It’s much cheaper to ensure that employees are happy and ideally stress-free. Not only is it good for them but ultimately good for the company and the economy.