Stress at work if not managed can spread like a contagious disease, because the feeling of stress in one staff can create a stressful environment for others. Stress comes as a result of frustration, anger, or nervousness and leads to a feeling of emotional or physical tension.

Everyone is different and everyone reacts to situations differently. What triggers frustration, anger, or nervousness in one person, leading to stress may have no effect or the exact opposite effect on another person. Therefore, stress management can be a very personal journey but will require external support from others. It is however important for organisations to create a low-stress work environment for its employees to improve employee retention, engagement, and productivity.

There is no such thing as having a completely stress-free environment and it is impossible to have one. A bit of stress at work prevents us from making costly errors, it’s the feeling we get just before a big presentation, it helps us to remain focused on the task ahead of us. However, too much stress throws us off our game and leads to low/poor performance. Here are a few causes of workplace stress:

  1. Poor performance: When staff who are typically highflyers start to experience low performance. When this is happening with multiple staff, it is time to check if the workplace has become stressful.
  2. Constant long hours and deadlines: A work environment can become stressful when staff constantly have tight deadlines and constantly work long hours.
  3. Constantly performing stretch roles: When staff are constantly required to perform roles out of their comfort zone. Stretching a staff to grow into new roles can be a good a thing, but constantly being under pressure becomes too stressful for the staff.
  4. Conflict in the workplace: If there is conflict in the workplace, the environment may be toxic and may lead to a stressful work environment.
  5. Lack of control of how you do your work: This can be caused by work constantly being dropped on you or simply being micromanaged, always being told what to do and how to do it. It could also be from constant change of work schedules.
  6. High workloads and little help: This is simply when staff are required to do work that ultimately shouldn’t be done by only them. This type of stress is very common in lean organisations where staff do more work than they can handle with little to no help.

Other common causes of workplace stress include, poor management style, unexpected changes in the organisation, little to no job roles (underutilisation of staff), multiple reporting lines, and poor communication.

We have said that stress can be personal, however, here are few tips on how to make the work environments less stressful for everyone.

  1. Have an open-door policy: keep your doors open and communicate with co-workers. If a staff seems stressed or overwhelmed at work, whether it is work-related or personal, the staff productivity would reduce. Communication is a good technique and if employees are comfortable talking, learning why the environment is stressful would be easy.
  2. Handle workplace conflicts: If for any reason there is conflict in the workplace, the conflict should be handled to such an extent that there is little to no tension in the room.
  3. Include staff in decisions that affect their work: for decisions that would directly affect a staff job and how it is done, discuss these decisions with the staff directly. Hearing the decisions without being included or notified in the least not only brings stress but breeds toxicity.
  4. Clearly communicate staff job roles: rather than micromanage staff, communicate clearly what the job roles entail and what is expected of them. Ensure to be as clear as possible with goals and expected results.
  5. Avoid impractical deadlines: Deadlines put a lot of pressure on many people. Unrealistic deadlines more so. It also leads to poor performance and performance anxiety, creates stress in the workplace. Impractical deadlines put staff in tight corners and lead to overall poor performance.


Working in a stressful work environment is never good for anyone. Exercise more, eat better, drink lots of water, sleep better, and practice relaxation at work. Then we can deal with the external factors discussed above. Here is a less stressful work environment.




Leave a Reply