Guide

How to deal with stress

Common causes of stress at work

It's important to recognise the common causes of stress at work so that you can take steps to reduce stress levels where possible. . Workplace stress can be caused by a number of factors – from heavy workloads and over-promotion to bullying and blame culture.

Some common causes of stress in the workplace include: 

  • High workloads – excessive amounts of work and unrealistic deadlines making people feel rushed, under pressure and overwhelmed.
  • Insufficient workloads – this makes people feel that their skills are being underused. It can make people feel less secure in their job roles.
  • Lack of control – having no control over work activities.
  • No support - A lack of interpersonal support or poor working relationships leading to someone feeling alone.
  • Lack of skills - People being asked to do a job for which they don't have experience or training.
  • Adapting to change - Difficulty settling into a new promotion, both in terms of meeting the new role's demands and adapting to possible changes in relationships with colleagues.
  • Job security worries - Concerns about job security, lack of career opportunities, or level of pay.
  • Bullying or harassment.
  • Blame culture – where people are afraid to get things wrong or to admit to making mistakes.
  • Weak or ineffective management - this leaves employees feeling they don't have a sense of direction. 
  • Over-management - this can leave employees feeling undervalued and affect their self-esteem.
  • Multiple reporting lines – unclear chains of command, with each manager asking for their work to be prioritised.
  • Lack of communication - Failure to keep employees informed about major changes to the business, causing them to feel uncertain about their future.
  • Poor physical working environment - eg excessive heat, cold or noise, poor lighting, uncomfortable seating, faulty equipment, etc.

Conflict at work can also be a common area of stress, see managing conflict.