8 Hours of Stress Each Day

Excluding the off-the-charts stress of a job loss, there are certain on-going job conditions that may be present throughout the working day and that almost invariably lead to significant stress.

Job Design

Some jobs are just not well-designed, i.e. they contain requirements and features that are inherently stressful. This may include a heavy workload caused by the organization’s need or desire to have one person do the job of two (or even three) people. Another may be inadequate or frowned-upon breaks that do not let the individual rest the mind and the body for even a few minutes at a time. A third may be too-long working hours that interfere with needed rest and one’s personal life. Yet another is being asked to perform tasks that have little chance of being successful, do not utilize one’s skills adequately, or force individuals to use skills that are not their strong suit. In these situations, and in these economic times, it is not unheard of for someone to work to the point of mental or physical exhaustion and beyond, as “anything else would jeopardize the job.” A fear-induced highly negative perception of the precariousness of the job can be a significant factor that may make overlooking a flawed or poorly designed job a dire necessity.

Management Style

The wrong management style, either authoritarian or overly permissive, can cause a lack of participation in decision-making, poor communication within the organization, absent or ineffective people-friendly policies, inattention to ergonomic or environmental problems, poor handling of grievances or legitimate complaints, or micromanagement. Often, these circumstances can only change if there is a change in management. 

Stressful Interpersonal Relationships

Difficult or strained relationships with bosses, coworkers or subordinates, due to lack of support, camaraderie or helpfulness can foster a sense of isolation or of being under attack. Usually, something can be done to remedy these situations from the personal side, as in, “better relationships start with me.” However, seldom these issues are perceived, and often dysfunctikonal relationships tend to promote further isolation and to create a vicious circle of misery.

Confusion Over Job Roles

These can take the form of having diverging or simply too many responsibilities, or the all too common occurrence of having to please or satisfy two or more constituencies with opposing goals, i.e. please the customer while maximizing revenue. Often these confusions are unavoidable due to the competitive and profit-oriented nature of most businesses. 

Career Concerns

We may harbor sometimes overt but more often secret concerns over various aspects of the position we occupy, such as the security of the job itself, due to job-specific or industry or general economy threats. There may be rapid changes in the job description or its requirements for which we may feel unprepared. There may also be unfulfilled desires of growth opportunities, such as advancement, promotion or change. A fear-induced highly negative perception of the precariousness of the job can be a significant factor, even though it may not be commensurate to the objective reality of the threat, i.e. fear without real risk of job loss.

Structural and Environmental Conditions

The conditions in which we must perform our tasks may range from mildly unpleasant to physically dangerous. There may also be noise, bad breathable air, overcrowding or constrictive body positions, such as prolonged standing or sitting or heavy lifting, or even too much typing. The degree of control that we can have over these stressors is often minimal or none.These often are legitimate and objective constraints that would stress anyone under the same circumstances.