Managing Workplace Stress- Peace Ogbonna

In a fast-growing industrialized world and highly competitive economic market, it is no news that pressure is being mounted on the workforce of an organization either physically, emotionally, psychologically or otherwise to reach set goals and business targets in order to remain relevant in the business world.
Therefore, the tight deadlines, high expectations and constant connectivity which are they attributes of demand in a modernized workplace has contributed greatly in creating an uncomfortable companion called “workplace stress” for employees. This places a great demand on their mental and physical well-being as well as slows down the complete productivity of employees. The purpose of this article is to help employees manage workplace stress and equally expose readers the general knowledge of workplace stress.


Workplace stress is the harmful response to work as a result of an integral part of professional life which comes from; handling challenging projects, meeting targets and deadlines, managing office politics or interpersonal conflicts and lack of job security. In order to successfully manage stress, one must identify the stressors, only then can one direct the appropriate strategy to it. It is also worthy to note the extent to which stress affects one both physiologically and psychologically of which includes; high blood pressure, suppressed immune system, muscles tension and pains, impaired cognitive function, anxiety, depression, lack of job satisfaction, interpersonal conflict, just to mention but a few.

It is expedient for the employers to setup intentional strategies which are able to recognize workplace stress as this will help in cubing it and averting its disastrous consequences. This is a supportive workplace culture and skill that should be adopted and here are few strategies which can aid on recognizing workplace stress when you start observing negative behavioral changes in the work environment:

Open Communication; This is a vital culture in the workplace that should be promoted and encouraged. Employees should be able to air their opinions without being scared of stigmatization or unruled penalties. This should be able to communicate their workload, challenges and concerns, this will go a long way in identifying employees that are unduly stress or needs help to increase productivity and not burnout.

Managerial training; Managers or team leads should be trained on effective communications skills to help them discuss on stress related issues with their colleagues and be able to offer appropriate help. Trainings on stress and stress management should equally be a core training for them as it would help them identify stress in their team members.

Survey and Feedback Mechanism; Anonymous surveys should be carried out on employers to check their overall stress levels in the workplace this can be done by sending in questionnaires. There should equally be a mechanism where employees can give insight on stress contributing factors in the workplace.

Workload and Deadlines should be Monitored; Attention should be paid to unrealistic number of work task, excessive work pressure and consistent deadlines. Workloads and deadlines should be kept in checks. This is not in anyway encouraging laxity at the workplace rather this is a means of effecting greater productivity, positive and conducive work environment.

Regular Check-Ins; A friendly environment should be created against an uptight one. There should be regular personal check-ins between the managers and team members to discuss stressors, workload and goals, this will help employees share their experiences and seek guidance where necessary.

Observation Physical Symptoms; Most of the signs of workplace stress as earlier mentioned are fatigue, high blood pressure, tension, muscle pains and headaches, when employees/colleagues constantly complain of these symptoms, there is every likelihood that they are stress. Therefore, breaks and activities that encourages physical and mental well-being should be prioritize and practiced.

Observation Behavioral Changes; when there is increase in negative behaviors such as interpersonal conflicts, irritation, withdrawals and constant mood swing, decreased productivity, missed deadlines and low work quality, then stress level must be checked as this might be signs that stress is prevalent in the workplace.

Educational Strategies Should be Employed; Workshops and seminars on stress management should be conducted in the workplace. This will create an awareness on it and equip workers with the right tools to manage stress effectively, coping mechanism in cases it is unavoidable and stress-relief strategies.

Utilization of Employee Assistance Programs (EPAs); These are initiatives sponsored by employers to support employees manage personal and professional challenges that affects there well-being and performance at the workplace. Most of these programs includes;
• Financial and legal consultation
• Work-life balance assistance
• Confidential counselling etc.
Practical Steps in Managing Workplace Stress;

Having given the definition of workplace stress, strategies for identifying it, the next is how to manage this workplace stress when it has been identified. Therefore, here are few steps on stress management –

1. Creation of Supportive Work Environment- A supportive work environment is essential for the well-being of employees and overall productivity of the workplace. The factors that encourage supportive work environment are; empathic leadership, open communication, clear work expectations, flexible work arrangements, recognition and appreciation of employees, collaborative and inclusive work culture. Just to mention but a few.

2. Encouraging Practical Stress Relief strategies- This includes; Time management, regular breaks, social support, healthy eating, journaling, positive affirmations, laughter, setting boundaries, effective communication, exercises, relaxions and technology breaks. These are some of practical strategies that can ease off work stress and keep one refreshed to face work challenges.

3. Building Resilience in the Workplace- Work stress is one part of professional life that is experienced both by employers and employees at one point or the other and it is crucial for them to learn how to bounce back after a setback, navigate through challenges and fostering a positive mindset.

4. Work-life Balance should be encouraged- Creating a healthy work-life balance is essential for overall well-being as these aids in preventing burnout and reduces stress. Prioritizing selfcare, setting boundaries and disconnecting from work after work hour by giving time to leisure and loved ones are essential in managing workplace stress.

In conclusion, the negative impact of workplace stress is numerous, yet it is an integral part of the professional life especially in a highly competitive time as this. It is essential that an awareness is raised in workplaces and effective management of it is thought as this will improve the overall wee-being of workers and improve productivity in the workplace.

Peace Chinyere Ogbonna
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