Occupational stress or work stress is the psychological response of employees when they can’t cope with the never-ending work demands and unmanageable pressure.
Nowadays, it’s common for employees to suffer from occupational stress due to overworking, long working hours, fear of losing jobs, rigid work environments and cultures, poor work conditions, peer pressure, and many other work-related pressures.
Workers in the professional business industry are more likely to suffer from this progressing and chronic occupational stress. However, depending on various variables such as an employee’s personality, company culture, and job role, employees can have different types of occupational stress.
Types of Occupational Stress
1. Acute Stress
Acute stress is situational and is related to fleeting/passing issues. Anyone and everyone can experience acute stress at some point in their lives. It lasts for a brief period.
Employees who face new and exciting challenges can feel thrilled and somewhat stressed too.
2. Stress that’s based on fear
Usually, a manager’s stress is more like fear in disguise. Employees, especially managers, are more likely to report feeling “afraid” than “stressed” when they are regularly faced with making significant decisions with far-reaching effects.
3. Exhaustion and burnout
When employees are exhausted emotionally, physically, or intellectually, the symptoms can greatly affect their health and work. When they are under consistent, prolonged stress, they may experience some serious symptoms, such as feeling depressed or detached, lack of motivation, and a negative mood.
Exhaustion or burnout is the type of work-based stress that requires immediate attention.
Key Reasons for Occupational Stress
The sources of occupational stress can be different for every employee. Some major causes of occupational stressors include:
Organization’s strict policies and protocols
Lack of support from human resource departments
Workforce mismanagement and micromanagement
Personal, situational, or professional issues
Conflicts among individuals in a department
Workplace bullying, belittling, and discriminating
No career growth and development
Poor time management
Performance standards that are much above the employee’s qualifications and capabilities
Inadequate occupational guidance
Loss of wages, pay cuts, and benefits
Regular threats of termination
The impacts of professional stress can be incredibly harmful to an employee's general well-being and productivity, regardless of the reason. It can drastically affect employees’ motivation, inspiration, and dedication.
Signs of Occupational Stress
Understanding the symptoms of workplace stress is essential to be able to deal with it. The most typical signs of occupational stress include
Less motivated to complete basic job requirements
Frequently feelings stressed and confused
Inferiority complex toward colleagues
Notable dietary changes
Anxiety and abnormally high blood pressure
Increased irritation and lack of sleep
Feeling depressed, hopeless, helpless, dejected, and failure
Feelings of excessive burnout
Excessive heart palpitations and perspiration
Unable to work or communicate effectively
Stages of Occupational Stress
It is possible to tell if someone is actually having trouble with occupational stress by looking at one of the three stages of the stress reaction.
Stage 1: Alarm
Stress of any kind, whether it be mental, emotional, or physical, causes the body to go into "alarm," which is the equivalent of "fight or flight." An adrenaline rush is sent to every region of the body. As a result, acting as an alarm to the physical and mental system. This stage is typically brief when it comes to regular life stress.
However, stage 1 might last a long time with occupational stress, leading to stage 2.
Stage 2: Resistance
After a long adrenaline rush, the body attempts to restore equilibrium by increasing substances in the brain like melatonin that block and quiet the alarm system. A toxic cycle that can lead to sleep loss, exhaustion, irritability, and attention problems can start when the first step of the alarm overwhelms the resistance stage due to continuous stress.
Stage 3: Exhaustion
The body simply gives up to the constant stress and shuts down after battling a cycle between Stages 1 and 2. The body can succumb to disease and infection very quickly once its mental and physical defense mechanisms are compromised.
Untreated chronic occupational stress is common, and many sufferers exhibit a range of health issues, including bacterial and viral infections, elevated hormone levels, excessive internal damage, and severe skin disorders. That’s why it is essential to treat workplace stress.