Enterprise Software

The top workplace stressors and irritations

If you're looking for good news today, you've come to the wrong place. I am really stressed out, having just read an article about the effects of stress. As a result, I'm not only stressed about the normal stuff, but I'm stressed that I may have a heart attack because of the stress.

In an article on ThomasNet, a Web site devoted to industrial market trends, I found some interesting facts:

  • IT is at the top of the list of most stressful occupations; even trumping the field of medicine. Here's why.
  • According to the National Mental Health Association, stress ranks among the top three workplace problems for employee assistance professionals.
  • Studies from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicate job stress increases the risk for development of back and upper- extremity musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, ulcers, and impaired immune function
  • And from the Journal of the American Medical Association: You're more likely to have a second heart attack if you work in a stressful job. (Incidentally, other studies say you're more likely to have that first heart attack if your work is stressful.)

Still with me?

So what's causing all this stress? Writer David R. Butcher, examining the results of a SkillSoft study of more than 3,000 people, reports the top 10 work stresses are:

  1. Workload
  2. Feeling undervalued
  3. Deadlines
  4. Type of work people have to do
  5. Having to take on other people's work
  6. Lack of job satisfaction
  7. Lack of control over the working day
  8. Having to work long hours
  9. Frustration with the working environment
  10. Targets

And here are the top ten irritations having to do with colleague behavior:

  1. Seeing others not pulling their weight
  2. Managers changing their minds about what they want to be done
  3. Lack of support from managers
  4. Pressure from managers
  5. Feeling put-upon by managers
  6. Interruptions by colleagues
  7. Interruptions by managers
  8. Bullying behavior by managers
  9. Lack of support from colleagues
  10. Bullying behavior by colleagues

So what can be done about the rise of stress in the workplace? Some organizations, concerned with the hundreds of billions of dollars lost due to stress-related absenteeism and employee non-productivity, decided to take the matter seriously. Many have designed internal programs to reduce employee stress. (Here are some examples of organization-led changes.)

I think the corporation itself can play a big role in stress reduction, but a lot of it has to do with how the individual deals with things. I think the most important lesson I ever learned was that you can't change other people; you can only change how you deal with them. What is your take on work-related stress? Does the burden fall more on the individual's shoulders, the corporation itself, or a mix of both? What is the one thing your organization could do to alleviate some of your stress?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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