#63 Stress

People experience stress in many parts of their lives. Although stress is an essential element of many activities at work and at home, stress becomes harmful when it reaches an intensity that begins to impair daily activities. The focus of this brochure is harmful stress that arises from work situations, as opposed to stress that is generated by an employee’s personal life. Harmful workplace stress has been associated with:

  •  Jobs that demand a lot from the employees while allowing them little control over how the job is performed,
  •  Work environments that are unsafe and/or uncomfortable, and
  •  Organizational practices that exclude employee participation or input. This brochure offers suggestions for reducing the potentially harmful effects of work-related stress on employers and employees.

In addition to the financial cost of workplace stress, employers should also be concerned about the adverse impact of workplace stress on a business’ ability to compete in the marketplace. Investing in workplace stress reduction can yield significant payoffs in business productivity and competitiveness.

What Can Be Done About Workplace Stress? There are many ways to reduce the level of workplace stress. Implementing successful workplace stress-management measures depends on:

  • Valuing your employees’ well-being while they are at work,
  • Being flexible when tackling any workplace stress problem, and
  • Creating and maintaining open lines of communication between you and your employees.

By fostering two-way conversations with your employees about stress issues, employers can encourage employees to suggest solutions to the problems they experience on the job.

Your employees’ knowledge of the workplace should be considered in evaluating any suggested solution to workplace stress problems. Just as workplace activities can produce stress in an employee’s life, personal factors can do the same, because an employee’s personal stress can magnify the effect of harmful workplace stress. It is difficult to say where one ends and the other begins. While this brochure offers employers a practical approach to identifying and reducing harmful workplace stress, it also recognizes that employees must take responsibility for reducing harmful stress that arises from their personal lives.

How Can Employers Take “AIM” at Managing Workplace Stress?

  • Cal/OSHA recommends that employers consider using the following three-step approach to managing workplace stress:
  • Assess whether your workplace has jobs, environmental conditions, or organizational practices that contribute to harmful workplace stress.
  • Implement stress-management measures that you and your employees believe will be effective in your workplace. Monitor your progress and implement adjustments as appropriate.