Stresshack #1: The Top 6 Job Stressors

Bruegel_TowerOfBabel

 

The top six on-going job conditions, thus excluding exceptional events such as a job loss, that may lead to significant stress are:

6. The structural and environmental conditions in which we must perform our tasks, which can 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. Degree of control we can have over these stressors: Often none. Perception vs. reality of the stressor: These often are legitimate and objective constraints that would stress anyone under the same circumstances.

5. Career concerns we may harbor over various aspects of the position we occupy, such as the security of the job itself, due to job-specific or industry/general economy threats; rapid changes in the job description or its requirements for which we may feel unprepared; unfulfilled desires of growth opportunities, such as advancement, promotion or change. Degree of control we can have over these stressors: Ranging from limited to significant. Perception vs. reality of the stressor: A fear-induced highly negative perception of the precariousness of the job can be a significant factor, and may not be commensurate to the objective reality of the threat.

4. Confusion over job roles, such as having conflicting 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. Degree of control we can have over these stressors: Fairly low, as often these confusions are unavoidable. Perception vs. reality of the stressor: Often perceived accurately.

3. Stressful interpersonal relationships with bosses, coworkers or subordinates, due to lack of support, camaraderie or helpfulness leading to a sense of isolation or of being under attack. Degree of control we can have over these stressors: Usually high on the personal side, as in “better relationships start with me.” Perception vs. reality of the stressor: Seldom perceived accurately, as this threat tends to promote further isolation and create a vicious circle of misery.

2. Management style that causes 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, micromanagement. Degree of control we can have over these stressors: Fairly low, as often these circumstances can only change if there is a change in management. Perception vs. reality of the stressor: Often perceived accurately.

1. Job features and design that are inherently stressful. This may include a heavy workload, inadequate or frowned-upon breaks, long work hours that interfere with rest and personal life, tasks that have little chance of being successful, do not utilize our skills adequately, or force us to use skills that are not our strong suit. Degree of control we can have over these stressors: It is not unusual for someone to work to the point of exhaustion and beyond, as “anything else would jeopardize the job.” Perception vs. reality of the stressor: A fear-induced highly negative perception of the precariousness of the job can be a significant factor, and may not be commensurate to the objective reality of the threat.