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LEARNING DOCUMENTS // What causes work stress?

1.2. What causes work stress?

Poor work organization can cause work stress. Research findings show that the most stressful type of work is that which values excessive demands and pressures that are not matched to workers’ knowledge and abilities where there is little opportunity to exercise any choice or control, and where there is little support from others (Leka, Griffiths & Cox, 2004).
Often the causes of concerns the way work is designed and how it is managed. The literature on stress often recognizes nine categories of stress-related hazards or psychosocial hazards. These can be divided in three groups: work content hazards (1-4), work context hazards (5-9) and work environment hazards (10):

1. Job content

  1. Monotonous, under-stimulating, meaningless tasks
  2. Lack of variety
  3. Unpleasant tasks
  4. Aversive tasks

 

 

2. Workload and work pace

  1. Having too much or too little to do
  2. Working under time pressures

 

3. Working hours

  1. Strict and inflexible working schedules
  2. Long and unsocial hours
  3. Unpredictable working hours
  4. Badly designed shift systems

 

4. Participation and control

  1. Lack of participation in decision making
  2. Lack of control

 



5. Career development, status, pay

  1. Job insecurity
  2. Lack of promotion prospects
  3. Under-promotion or over-promotion
  4. Work of ‘low social value’
  5. Piece rate payment schemes
  6. Unclear or unfair performance evaluation systems
  7. Being over-skilled or under-skilled for the job

 

6. Role in organization

  1. Unclear role
  2. Conflicting roles within same job
  3. Responsibility for people
  4. Continuously dealing with other people and their problems

 

7. Interpersonal relationships

  1. Inadequate, inconsiderate or unsupportive supervision
  2. Poor relationship with co-workers
  3. Bullying, harassment and violence
  4. Isolated or solitary work
  5. No agreed procedures for dealing with problems or complaints

 

9 Home-Work Interface

  1. Conflicting demands of work and home
  2. Lack of support for domestic problems at work
  3. Lack of support for work problems at home

 

10. Environmental factors

  1. Accidents
  2. Work load and ergonomics
  3. Noise
  4. Vibration
  5. Chemical hazards
  6. Thermal environments
  7. Particulates and other substances

 

Causes of work-related stress can also be classified in four categories:
GENERAL CAUSES OF STRESS AT WORK

  1. organizational problems
  2. insufficient back-up
  3. long or unsociable hours
  4. poor status, pay and promotion prospects
  5. unnecessary rituals and procedures
  6. uncertainty and insecurity


SPECIFIC CAUSES OF STRESS AT WORK

  1. unclear role specifications
  2. role conflict
  3. unrealistically high self-expectations (perfectionism)
  4. inability to influence decision making (powerlessness)
  5. frequent clashes with superiors
  6. isolation from colleagues' support
  7. lack of variety
  8. poor communication
  9. inadequate leadership
  10. conflicts with colleagues
  11. inability to finish a job
  12. fighting unnecessary battles

 

TASK-RELATED CAUSES OF STRESS AT WORK

  1. difficult clients or subordinates
  2. insufficient training
  3. emotional involvement with clients or subordinates
  4. the responsibilities of the job
  5. inability to help or act effectively

 

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS RELATED WITH STRESS AT WORK

  1. fear of injuries and accidents
  2. work load and ergonomics: postures, monotonous and repetitive work, weight/force
  3. exposure to dangerous or disturbing noise levels
  4. thermal environments (cold or hot workplaces)
  5. fear of chemical hazards
  6. exposure to particulates and other substances

 

There are also personal causes for stress. Personal causes are for example illness, problems in relationships, financial difficulties, family worries or addictions. Although these causes exert a negative effect on people’s mental and physical health and have an influence on their performance at work, they are not part of the responsibility employers have to assess risks to their employees health and safety.


WORK STRESS
1. What is stress?
2. What causes work stress?
3. The effects of work stress on individuals and on organizations
4. How can stress and stress risks be recognised?
Evaluation
RISK ASSESSMENT
RISK MANAGMENT
THE PREVENTION OF WORK STRESS
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AITEX CITEVE IDEC SKETCHPIXEL Triforma Oy Lifelong Living Programme This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained there