Workplace stress and why it matters

by 19 Aug 2008

Stress is simply a consequence of a failure to adapt to change, and results when one perceives a discrepancy, whether real or not, between the demands of a situation on the one hand, and on their resources to deal with them on the other.

In our society workplace stress is one of the most common causes and results when there is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Indeed it is a costly problem in today’s workplace, with about one-third of workers reporting high levels of stress, one-quarter of employees viewing their jobs as the number-one stressor in their lives, and three-quarters of employees believing the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.

Stress-related disorders includedissatisfaction, fatigue, tension, maladaptive behaviours such as aggression and substance abuse, cognitive impairment such as concentration and memory problems, and even the development of depression and anxiety disorders.

Burnout is also classically a consequence, and is a mainstream psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and consequent diminished interest in one’s work.

As such it is important to ensure that workloads are in line with workers’capabilities and resources, jobs are designed to provide meaning/ stimulation/ opportunities for workers to use their skills, workers’ roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting workers’ jobs are provided, communications are optimised to reduce uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects, opportunities are provided for social interaction among workers, and work schedules compatible with the demands and responsibilities outside the job are established.

By Dr Benson Riddle, head of department, Peak Health Medical Services.Email or visit