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The Complete Guide to Managing Stress at Work and Why Office Tension Can Be Ruining Your Life

You may not even realize that it has a hold of you. You suddenly feel irritable. Perhaps you snap at a co-worker for seemingly no reason. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you took a non-working vacation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the physical and mental strain you’re feeling is the definition of stress. The main ones are likely stressors at work.

Some stressor types are evident, such as a flat tire on the way to your job or an unexpected bill. Others are insidious because you may not realize how your body is reacting to them. They include little things, like the rude customer service rep, noise from traffic or someone using a leafblower, or even lousy weather. Whatever the cause, it’s essential to identify them to right the ship and regain your control.



Types of Stressors at Work

Many types of stress exist. Categorizing them can help you understand the cause and identify insights into mitigating them. Let’s begin with sources of workplace anxiety. The seven types of organizational stress include:

  • Job security stress
  • Social support stress
  • Manager/superior stress
  • Organization change stress
  • Control stress
  • Effort/reward balance stress
  • Demand stress

Many overlap with other aspects of an individual’s life. For example, job security stress could affect your family life as you struggle to make ends meet. Workplace stress also often has a dynamic that many other kinds do not, a lack of control. Uncertainty is challenging and uncomfortable. It can often lead to chronic workplace stress, which is particularly unhealthy in the long term.

Another type you may encounter stems from a toxic work environment. Everyone has probably had at least one job with that person on staff who deflates the employee morale with complaints or a bad attitude. The wise manager identifies this problem and takes care of it swiftly.

It’s worth mentioning that stressors at work aren’t confined to the employees. Managers aren’t immune to the effects of the pressure to meet deadlines and handle the workflow. They often can lack the social support that co-workers may have, especially in small organizations. Therefore, leadership must understand the scope of workplace stress to ensure everyone’s needs are met.


Steps for Managing the Different Types of Stressors in the Office

Remember that stress can affect individuals physically and mentally. That means solutions for managing workplace tension should address both aspects of the issue. You may find that addressing the former handles the latter. Physical activity can stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain. Scientists often refer to these hormones as Nature’s painkillers.

You can think of these chemicals as a survival mechanism since the physical exertion of fleeing or fighting a threat is an effective way to stimulate their release. The result is less pain and an adrenaline boost to manage the situation better. That makes an employee wellness plan with ambitious exercise goals an excellent way to manage work-related stress.

However, information is critical to the success of these measures. Employee stress assessments offer a great starting point. You must know what is causing the problems for pulling the plug on the stressors at work. Of course, clear communication is also imperative. That makes a psychologically safe work environment a vital piece of a solution. 

You can’t make the necessary changes unless the employees trust their managers enough to be candor and honest about what’s wrong.


How to Reduce Workplace Anxiety & Increase Productivity in the Office

Reducing office anxiety addresses several types of organizational stress by relieving the concern over things such as job security and control. It also is the pathway to increased productivity. Remember that stress is a distraction. It’s hard to focus on your work and put your energy into it if you’re afraid you’re doing it for naught.

While your first step is identifying the sources of anxiety, your next ones are strategies for alleviating them. Your plan will likely differ if you’re dealing with demand versus social support stress. The former requires solutions at the individual level, whereas the latter is a corporate culture issue. We suggest tapping into the resource right in front of you for answers, your employees.

Just being able to voice their concerns will empower your staff. It will build trust between you and your people and foster a culture of collaboration instead of competition. The latter fuels the great divide, like creating silos with little interdepartmental communication, let alone cooperation. Remember that a company is only as strong as the foundation of the relationships that exist within it.

Managing stress isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it’s a process that builds upon the knowledge and awareness gained through each leg of the journey. Let’s draw the map to a more productive and psychologically safe workplace.


Taking Charge and Controlling Your Mental Health by Managing Your Stress Levels

Experts categorize two types of stress, eustress and distress. The former describes the positive forms that compel planning and action, such as moving or starting a new position. Yes, it’s stressful doing everything involved with a new beginning. But isn’t it fun to think about getting new furniture or feeding on the energy of a successful team?

Distress entails the events that spur anxiety, like injuries, job loss, or divorce. They are life-changing but often come at a cost. Some, such as the death of a family member or spouse, are often sudden, leaving you little time to prepare for how it will affect your life. Perhaps that fact is the key to your response to them. Your perception also plays a role. A new position might mean an end to money problems.

The essential takeaway is that stress is multi-faceted. It has external factors that a person may or may not be able to control. It also has internal sources to which an employer may not be privy. It can have both positive and negative effects. Therefore, your first step is information gathering to put the puzzle pieces together based on the individual’s experiences.



Further Action 1: Recognizing Stress and Its Source

We’ve discussed the types of organizational stress. The overriding theme with them is uncertainty and a lack of control. According to the Gallup State of the American Workplace Report, roughly 21 percent feel like their managers are helping them do their best work. Their job descriptions might not align with what they end up doing. It’s hard to improve if you don’t have the guidance of your organization’s leaders.

That sets the stage for several types of stress in psychology. Therefore, it’s essential to begin with understanding what kinds you’re facing and their sources. That’s where your solution begins. Remember that these negative feelings often have a domino effect that can increase their complexity and make them more challenging to manage. Beginning at the source can solve these accompanying issues.

Bear in mind that stress can have multiple starting points that may not involve the workplace at all. You may not have the answers for every facet. The vital thing is to start the process that sends a positive message to your staff.


Further Action 2: Taming Stress at the Managerial Level

It’s crucial for an organization’s leaders to realize that stress often begins at the top. Teams are often a reflection of their managers. Rarely do these problems exist only with employees. After all, it’s the manager’s job to keep their team members on point to meet deadlines and goals. Remember that managers usually take the heat for underperforming, causing an added source of stress.

Managers aren’t infallible, despite their elevated position in a company. They often have few people they can confide in about problems on the job. That often makes them socially isolated in ways that other employees in the company are not. It’s often helpful for these individuals to discuss their concerns with an independent party. Coaching is another excellent way to reach out to these people.

Taking these steps can have a ripple effect and boost employee morale. It’s also an opportunity for managers to connect with their staff in an unconventional yet effective way. Sharing their experiences within an organization can build stronger relationships between team members.


Further Action 3: Harnessing the Power of Knowledge

They say that knowledge is power. Too often, managers have trouble seeing the forest through the trees and fall victim to its curse. That’s particularly true with new employees who may not fully understand the corporate culture and its speak. Consequences of this situation include unclear expectations, a failure to communicate, and molehills becoming mountains.

The best ways to handle these avoidable fires involve the judicious use of soft skills. They are not things you learn as much as those you experience. Life is an excellent teacher. Another way to harness them is to tap into the knowledge of those who have been there and can provide valuable guidance, such as Kutsko Consulting’s free preview course

We offer customized coaching programs for concentrating on the skills your organizational leaders need to succeed. Managers can learn how to hone their emotional intelligence to make better decisions and lead teams with compassion and the essential critical thinking skills. While some are born leaders, others are cultivated and nurtured.

It’s worth noting that employees want opportunities to learn and develop their skills. Up to 90 percent of workers consider training a dealmaker when looking for a new position. Remember that employees want to do their best on the job. However, they need the skills and knowledge to do it, which can also alleviate the classic Internal stressors example, the imposter syndrome.

Sometimes, people set unrealistic expectations for themselves, even if they’re ill-prepared to handle the task. Training is a surefire confidence booster and a worthwhile investment for employers that offers many benefits. The same thing applies to new managers who have little people experience. The knowledge that training fosters can make them better leaders.


Further Action 4: Eliminating Burnout

The goal of managing stress is to close the gaps that allow it to permeate the workplace. We’ve discussed the value of employee stress assessments. However, it’s not a one-time deal. Situations and people change. Instead, you should incorporate them as part of the check-ins you do with your staff. It’s also something employees want from their employers.

According to a survey by Forrester Consulting, 87 percent of workers want their organizations to take an interest in their mental health, with 79 percent feeling it can safeguard them from severe consequences. Of course, the pandemic was a strong motivator. Nevertheless, COVID-19 taught all of us the importance of social support to stay grounded in a changing world.

Another piece to this plan is frequent communication between managers and employees. Workers should have a say in their workload, career paths, and training. It also benefits employers. It increases engagement, which can, in turn, reduce turnover rates. You’ll likely find that your people will take ownership of their tasks, which can increase productivity.

We also recommend checking in with your staff whenever a potentially stressful event occurs. Your employees may respond to these situations differently. Recognize the individual and the places from which they come. Your people will appreciate your going the extra mile to ensure their well-being. It’s an easy thing to do with a huge payback.


Final Thoughts

Recognizing and managing the stressors at work offers benefits for employees and employers. It sends a caring message to your people that will build trust in your staff. Workers are more likely to stay with an organization that goes the extra yard. Companies will gain a more stable working environment. That can boost productivity and increase your bottom line.

Remember that your organization consists of people with issues that have nothing to do with the workplace. Nonetheless, they can affect their performance and productivity. If an employer wants to show their staff they care, there’s no better way than caring about their risk of burnout and mental health. Everyone will benefit from the improved employee morale and a culture of collaboration.



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