With the dynamic economic environments that businesses operate in, workplace stress and burnout has increasingly become common. “Three out of every four American workers describe their work as stressful” (Maxon 1). The problem is not only in America but also in all other parts of the world. Incidences of mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, bankruptcies, layoffs, etc have cost workers their jobs. After such incidences, the workplace is normally stressful and uncomfortable for workers.
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Other workers may also undertake their duties fearfully due to the possibility of the aforementioned occurrences. Many workers are held up in tasks they are either uncomfortable with or unfamiliar with causing stress and burnout in their work. This paper investigates the causes of stress and burnout in the workplace and suggests ways of minimizing stress and burnout.
Among the factors that contribute to burnout in workers is the fact that workers are sometimes given too much work to accomplish in a short period. This exposes workers to performance pressure because they are worried that they cannot accomplish the task in the given time (Immen 1). Executives and managers should therefore ensure that they give workers reasonable deadlines for assignments in order to avoid stress and burnout that comes with pressure to beat deadlines.
Additionally, stress and burnout in the workplace may be caused by surveillance of workers’ production using computer systems, fewer benefits, longer working hours, and even new bosses. In every organization, workers across the hierarchy experience some form of uncertainty and tension making them vulnerable to stress and burnout.
It is therefore vital to ensure that computer surveillance systems are appropriately designed to reduce the effects they have on workers. Employers should also address other related issues like employee benefits and working hours with a view of reducing the stress and burnout that workers experience.
Executives are facing greater demands than in the past with the advent of technology. During their personal time, most executives find themselves doing office work due to the convenience offered by Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and tablets. This exacerbates stress and burnout because even hardworking people require some recovery time after work in order to manage stress and burnout effectively. Therefore, there is need for organizations to divide labor effectively so that each worker gets time to rest (Immen 1).
In some cases, an uncomfortable working environment like operating heavy and dangerous equipment may cause stress. In other cases, stress may be a result of unhealthy inter-personal relationships in the working environment.
Examples of the latter include uncoordinated teamwork, conflict among co-workers and unclear supervision (Maxon 1). Organizations should put in place proper systems to minimize stress and burnout that may come from poor relations among employees. In the case of a dangerous working environment, organizations should provide their workers with insurance and set up proper security measures.
Changes in how operations are carried out in organizations are a major cause of stress and burnout for workers. A couple of decades ago, a workers job remained constant during his/her tenure at the job. The situation is different in contemporary organizations.
Pilots are flying under pressing time demands, carrying more passengers, with more traffic, and using planes that are more complicated (Maxon 1). Other professionals like economists, accountants, finance officers, engineers, etc have to learn specialized computer software in order to work effectively. This has therefore been a source of stress and burnout for workers.
A particularly alarming cause of stress in the workplace is aggression. Millions of workers across the U.S. experience some form of violence in the workplace leading to absenteeism and lost wages. People who experience aggression at work are likely to experience higher stress and burnout levels that their counterparts (Maxon 1). Aggression may be in the form of physical assault or passive aggression. The latter is most common in organizations where workers engage in ‘cold war’.
Some workers may withhold resources from other workers, others may have a habit of ignoring invitations to meetings, and some may fail to respond to memos and phone calls. Although these causes may sound benign, they are responsible for workplace stress and burnout in millions of workers in the United States (Maxon 1). Organizations should therefore ensure that they have proper redress mechanisms for dealing with the various forms of aggressions in order to minimize stress and burnout among their workers.
The largest cause of stress and burnout in the workplace is perhaps wrong job placement. Sometimes people follow the wrong careers and end up doing jobs that are not suitable for them. For instance, an introvert who chooses marketing or sales as his/her profession is likely to experience high levels of stress and burnout than an extrovert in the same profession.
Similarly, an extrovert who chooses accounting as his/her profession is likely to experience high levels of stress and burnout than an introvert in the same profession. Worse still, management may force a person to work in a department that does not suit his/her disposition and qualifications. This usually leads to job dissatisfaction and ultimately the worker will experience stress and burnout. It is therefore important that managers assign jobs to workers according to the skills and competencies of the workers (Bowman 1).
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Employees should also ensure that they evaluate their competencies and identify the areas where they fit best. In addition to this, workers may be having personal problems like bereavement, separation, divorce, sickness, etc. This will also result in stress and burnout, ultimately affecting the performance of the workers.
Stress and burnout are also common among employees who feel that they do not have enough control over what they do. Despite the fact that management must exercise control over what workers do in their organizations, it is vital that the workers are given some control over their work in order to motivate them and avoid instances of stress and burnout among workers. Management should also ensure that workers are given credit for jobs well done and that managers acknowledge the input of their juniors in every exercise.
Stress and burnout in the workplace remain a global challenge. As evidenced in the discussion above, stress and burnout have a myriad of causes and thus solutions to workplace stress and burnout depend on the cause. Causes of stress and burnout in the workplace can be classified into three categories.
These are work, self and life situations. The first class of causes is the most common and it includes issues like lack of control over work, lack of proper compensation, lack of clear supervision, etc. The second class includes issues like job placement and a person’s character, while the third includes personal issues like bereavement and divorce.
Bowman, Dave. Stress in the Workplace. n.d. Web.
Immen, Wallace. Workplace burnout affecting the best and the brightest. 2012. Web.
Maxon, Rebecca. Stress in the Workplace: A Costly Epidemic. 1999. Web.