Workplace Stress Highest For Invested Workers

Most people who work have occasionally felt stress from their jobs. However for
workers who experience high levels of stress on an ongoing basis, stress can
turn into burnout, mental health disorders and physical illnesses. A recent
study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) showed that 18% of
workers felt their jobs were highly stressful. Even more telling were the
responsibilities and job characteristics that increased the likelihood of a
worker feeling highly stressed as a result of work.

The study set out to examine the relationship between job stress and worker
perceived responsibilities and job characteristics. Information was gathered
and analyzed from a survey of 2737 Alberta adult workers who had worked the
previous year in a variety of settings, including offices, manufacturing,
construction, farming and services.

Among the findings was that more engaged employees were twice as likely to
report high stress. The job characteristics associated with stress pointed to
workers who were engaged and responsible. Workers were more likely to describe
their job as "highly stressful" if they were managers or professionals, worked
at a site remote from their home, or if their jobs required them to entertain,
travel or work long or variable hours (shift work, being on call, compressed
work week or overtime). The odds of being highly stressed also increased for
workers if they felt that their poor performance could cause physical injury to
themselves or co-workers, or damage to the company's equipment, reputation, or

On the other hand, 82% of workers surveyed reported low or no stress.
Statistically, this group tended to be male, single/never married, under the
age of 25, and not to have completed high school. Workers who were satisfied
with their jobs, or didn't consider their job a career were much less likely to
describe their jobs as being highly stressful. The findings in this study may
be helpful to employers in determining where to focus efforts to alleviate
stress in their at risk employees.

How employers can help
Employers should assess the workplace for the risk of stress. Look for work
pressures which could cause high and long lasting levels of stress, and the
employees who may be harmed by these pressures. Determine what can be done to
prevent the pressures from becoming negative stressors, including:

  • Treat all employees in a fair and respectful manner.

  • Design jobs to allow for a balanced workload. Allow employees to have control over the tasks they do as much as possible.

  • Keep job demands reasonable by providing manageable deadlines, hours of work, and clear duties, as well as work that is interesting and varied.

  • Involve employees in decision-making and allow for their input directly or through committees, etc.

  • Do not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form.

  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms that a person may be having trouble coping with stress, and take them seriously.

  • Encourage managers to have an understanding attitude and to be proactive by looking for signs of stress among their staff.

  • Survey employees and ask them for help identifying the causes of stress.

  • Once identified, address the root causes of the stress as quickly as possible.

  • Provide workplace health and wellness programs that address the source of the stress.

  • Provide employees with access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and resources that address their mental health concerns.

  • Make sure staff have the training, skills and resources they need.

Further Information - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety